Stop me if you’ve heard this before: USC students need to be better fans of sports other than football. Students need to go and support the other perennial national powers in the USC athletic department like water polo and volleyball. Trojan pride should be for more than just football and all that jazz.
It’s the shame schtick every year, and much to the chagrin of the school’s marketing department, little appears to change. This year, though, there is a tangible possibility it might.
The newly launched Pac-12 Networks, despite all its criticism and frustration over ongoing negotiations with DirecTV, is providing Pac-12 and USC fans with previously inconceivable viewing opportunities for the so-called “non-revenue sports,” aka everything except football.
Now, I think most everyone on this campus is excited for the return of Trojan football on Thursday. It’s been a much-needed rest for the team and its fans. It was oddly relaxing to not have a football game to plan the entire weekend around.
And with the return to the gridiron in Salt Lake City, USC students will have another football-free weekend to plan. But that doesn’t mean it has to be a Trojan-free weekend.
The USC women’s soccer team will be taking on Oregon State in Corvallis, Ore., at 1 p.m. Previously, that would have meant nothing. If you were at all interested in what happened, you could have looked up the score online later. Now, if you’re interested or just want to enjoy a lazy Friday afternoon, the game will be aired live on the Pac-12 Network.
Already, USC soccer has been featured five times on the Pac-12 Network, including its two most recent road games in Arizona. Counting their game against the Beavers on Friday, the Women of Troy will be featured on live television four more times over the course of the year, including their final road game in Pullman, Wash. on Oct. 12.
Then, of course, there’s the top-ranked, undefeated, four-time defending national champion men’s water polo squad, which takes on No. 3 archrival Stanford in Palo Alto at 9 a.m. on Saturday live on the Pac-12 Network. In their last matchup, shown live on ESPNU, the Trojans yielded the Cardinal a late equalizer before winning in overtime.
Now, nine in the morning is quite early. And water polo isn’t necessarily the most television-conducive sport. So if you’re actually looking to go somewhere, might I suggest women’s volleyball against Arizona State on Sunday evening (the Women of Troy also play Friday night against Arizona, but I’m just going to assume that isn’t too high on people’s Friday priority lists)?
Now, for you volleyball skeptics out there, hear me out. I was once one of you. I thought volleyball was stagnant and repetitive and, on the whole, not very exciting. And I still don’t understand the strategy of the game on even the most elementary level (tall people in front, that’s all I got), but let me tell you, volleyball is legit. The authority with which a ball is “killed,” or how crazy the libero seems diving all around the hardwood court, cannot be appreciated on television.
But if, perhaps, you live on Menlo and the Galen Center is a little too far of a trek for you … you guessed it. Watch it live on the Pac-12 Network from the comfort of your own couch.
Fans should take advantage of the newfound exposure being provided to the other sports and give them a fair look. No, the soccer won’t look like Barcelona, try as coach Ali Khosroshahin might. But the “beautiful game” still is just that. And I know that there are plenty of volleyball players and fans in Southern California who will appreciate the game played on the level it is in the Pac-12.
So even if you don’t feel like making it out to Galen or McAlister Field anytime soon, you can still catch the Trojans on TV. Football might be the most fun sport at USC, but it certainly isn’t the only one.
“Any Given Saturday” runs every other Wednesday. If you would like to comment on this story, visit DailyTrojan.com or email Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org.