WASH DC – Poor George Washington.
First, Washington’s Birthday (February 22nd) was combined with Abe Lincoln’s birthday (February 12th) to make just one Presidents’ Day, the national holiday we, in the United States of America, celebrate today.
Far worse than having a Washington’s day shared is the fact that no US-based sport tries to “own” the holiday.
Let’s conduct a simple review:
The NFL has long staked its claim to Thanksgiving Day.
The NBA practically (but not officially) opens its season on Christmas Day and the league comes back for more with a full slate of games on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
The NHL made a land-grab for January 1st when it staged its outdoor Winter Classic but New Year’s Day is traditionally a holiday to celebrate college football with bowl upon bowl of seemingly meaningless season-ending exhibitions.
Here, in Boston, the Red Sox peacefully co-exist with the Boston Marathon on Patriots’ Day.
Nobody wants Presidents’ Day.
To sports marketing and tv programming gurus everywhere, we ask; Why not?
The NBA is traditionally on its All-Star break with everyone literally and figuratively hung-over from the annual NBA All-Star Weekend. By scheduling its annual all-star classic on Presidents’ Day, it allows the league to celebrate late into the night after the Sunday weekend finale then dispatch one and all to return to their hometowns on the Monday holiday.
The fact the NBA schedule goes dark opens the door for two prime sports entities to “own” Presidents’ Day. The NHL, who we’ll give a pass as there’s a significant Canadian factor in the league, and College Basketball.
By the sheer process of elimination, College Basketball should step-up, plot with ESPN and simply seize the day, “Presidents’ Day.”
I can see it now: The BIG EAST Conference, the ACC, the Big Ten and the Pac12 combine to stage one of those ESPN marathons with each conference scheduling two blockbuster match-ups each Presidents’ Day.
The BIG EAST could tip-it-off with St. John’s at Georgetown (how fitting, right?) at Noon with Villanova vs. Marquette at 2pm .
They’d pass the torch to the ACC (Virginia vs. ND) and Big 10 (Michigan vs Michigan State) or rotate to forecast other strong opponents for games at 4/6pm, before the ACC would take charge for the highlight of the day, North Carolina at Duke at 8pm.
At 10pm and Midnight, the time zone would favor two great match-ups scheduled by the PAC 12, maybe Washington at Oregon and USC vs. UCLA?
It’s not that hard.
A quick look at my Boston Globe Sports TV calendar today shows:
There’s six decent NCAA men’s basketball games, scheduled to tip-off from 7-9pm (ET)
Add to that, two NCAA women’s basketball games, scheduled to tip at 7-9pm (ET).
The NHL has a single 7:30pm face-off on NBC Sports Network and the Boston Bruins are on NESN when they face-off against the San Jose Sharks at 10:30pm ET.
While all this program planning might be worthwhile in theory, I thought it prudent to run it by Len Deluca, a veteran sports television programmer of CBS Sports, ESPN and IMG fame, who knows the history and inner workings of the sports tv landscape.
“I think about the weekend over just Monday,” noted Deluca who also serves on the faculty at NYU’s prestigious Stern Entertainment Media and Technology department, “and there may be your answer. President’s Day weekend has been taken over by the NBA All-Star Friday-Saturday-Sunday, and Daytona 500/NASCAR as the Great American Race.
“The only event that’s ever tried to take on the Monday alone is the original ESPYs at Radio City Music Hall, before ESPN moved it west to Vegas and its summertime LA home.” he noted.
“Maybe this (Presidents’ Day Monday) is a beachhead for the new AAF in future years, or an eSports or PBA megaevent?”
The Alliance of American Football is hereby put on notice. Pro Bowlers, roll.
But, first, college basketball and the BIG EAST? Let’s get going.
Presidents’ Day is there for the taking and Chris Jackson of Hamilton The Musical fame awaits his promotional contract, because when I think of George Washington, I no longer think of the Quarter, the face of the Dollar Bill or the February holiday.
I think of Chris Jackson and his portrayal of the Nation’s first President, a performance for the ages. Except? Jackson is a big baseball fan. Batter Up?