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Are the middle class priced out of pro sports? Will college athletics prosper because of it? Sports

With a three-week break between RIT sporting events, life is fairly quiet in the Sports Information world. Yes, there is plenty of work to be done, preparing for the avalanche of home events in January (check out our composite schedule to see what I mean) and beyond (spring sports publications), but live events are on siesta for the time being.

With the economy struggling, the NFL announced last week that they cut 150 jobs. That got me thinking, that if the NFL, the most powerful and popular (sorry baseball, it’s true) league in the country is cutting jobs, what does that say for the rest of our major sports? Arena Football is taking a year off from play in 2009, due to the economic crisis and attendance in the NBA and NHL is down slightly. Nobody is immune to it (except the New York Yankees, apparently) and I bet attendance sags even lower in certain markets.

Can it get so bad in certain sports that teams will fold? Have player salaries spiraled so far out of control that nobody blinks when a nine-figure contract is announced? Is there such a thing as middle class anymore when the average salary in the four major sports exceeds $2,000,000 and the vast majority of Americans make under $75,000? Isn’t it more of a case of the haves and the have nots?

This begs the question: have the costs of owning a team, paying salaries, then charging high ticket prices to offset those costs, driven the middle class away from attending sporting events?

With more games being broadcast in high-definition, and the once pricey HD television sets continuing to nose-dive in price, isn’t that a better alternative in this day in age? Just think, excellent picture quality, no driving, food and drink at your convience, and you can change the channel if your team falls behind or not feel guilty that you just spent $100 a seat and $15 to park to see a 1-0 game.

Will local college athletics recieve a boost in attendance? Maybe the family of four who goes to a few Amerks games or Sabres games a year, but can’t afford it anymore will see that you can spend an entire evening at RIT for under $50 ($30 for tickets, plus food) and see good hockey. Maybe the basketball fan that sees a New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers or Toronto Raptors game goes to see Syracuse instead.

There are plenty of great athletic events to see for little or no money at RIT in January. Here are some events to consider seeing.

Sat., Jan. 3, Wrestling hosts the NY/PA Duals at the Gordon Field House, 12 and 2 pm (free)

Fri.-Sat., Jan. 9-10, Men’s Hockey vs. Connecticut, Ritter Arena, 7:05 pm ($10, $8, $5)

Sat., Jan. 10, Swimming and Diving hosts Utica, Judson Pool, 1 pm (free)

Sun., Jan. 11, Basketball hosts Ithaca (Dr. Destler’s challenge), Clark Gym, 12 pm (women) and 2 pm (men) (free)

Fri.-Sat., Jan. 16-17, Men’s Hockey vs. American International, Ritter Arena, 7:05 pm ($10, $8, $5)

RIT hosts the semifinals and championships of the 43rd Annual JP Morgan Chase Scholarship Basketball Tournament. The women’s semifinals are Thu., Jan. 15, while the men’s semifinals are the following day. Both the men’s and women’s championship are on Sat., Jan. 17. The women start at 5:30, while men play at 8. ($5 ticket for the whole week, portions of the proceeds are donated to each school) It is Division III basketball at its finest (competitors include: RIT, St. John Fisher, University of Rochester, Nazareth, Keuka, Roberts Wesleyan, SUNY Brockport and SUNY Geneseo).

Fri.-Sat., Jan. 23-24, Women’s Hockey vs. SUNY Plattsburgh (two-time defending national champions), Ritter Arena, 7 pm Friday and 2 pm Saturday (free)

Fri., Jan. 30, Men’s Hockey hosts the U.S. Under-18 national team, Blue Cross Arena, 7:05 pm ($12, $10, $9)


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