Iowa's Pat Lugo and Oklahoma State's Kaden Gfeller battle at 149 pounds on Sunday (Photo/Oklahoma State Athletics)
I woke up Sunday morning like a lot of wrestling fans. I was looking forward to the marquee matchup between college wrestling powerhouses.
But then reality set in.
It wasn't going to be on TV.
And I voiced my opinion on Twitter with this post:
So today's dual meet between Oklahoma State and Iowa is not on TV. Two winningest programs in NCAA history who are ranked 2nd and 3rd this year. Why is this not being televised?�" Craig Sesker (@craigsesker) February 24, 2019
What is going on here? Why can't we get a huge match like this on TV?
As most wrestling fans know, there is a decent amount of college wrestling that is televised.
Even ESPN, to their credit, jumped in this season and did some dual meets. ESPN has done an excellent job covering the NCAA Championships each March.
The answer to my Twitter question was that the match was being shown on a live webcast.
There are hundreds of college basketball games on television with a majority of them featuring teams not ranked, but we can't get an important dual meet between the two most storied programs in NCAA history on television.
The Big Ten Network and other networks do a decent job of putting college wrestling on the air.
Big Ten Network televised 15 dual meets this season and will show the finals of the Big Ten Championships in early March.
But we can't get the Oklahoma State-Iowa dual on television?
I messaged a long-time wrestling journalist Sunday and asked him why this dual wasn't on TV.
His answer? Money talks. And Oklahoma State made money from the people who produced the webcast.
The money put up for the webcast is what kept it off television.
I'm all for wrestling websites and other entities trying to make money and promote their product.
But not having a dual meet like this on television hurts the sport. In a big way.
Fans have to pay to watch a live stream.
How does this grow the sport?
It limits your viewers to a niche wrestling audience and a lot of interested wrestling fans simply aren't going to pay to watch a webcast.
It was a missed opportunity for more exposure on television. And a missed opportunity to attract new viewers and grow the sport.
They had a huge crowd for the dual meet at Oklahoma State, which was great to see. Obviously, there was a high level of interest in this dual meet.
It is just too bad more people weren't able to watch it.
It's like Iowa coach Tom Brands had said in the days leading up to the dual meet. Brands said the meet should be on ESPN and be showcased in a place where everyone could see it.
When the dual is on ESPN, people in every sports bar in America can see it and fans at home have easy access to it. That draws interest and legitimizes your sport. And more than likely draws in some new viewers to the sport. Especially if the product is good and they are entertained.
If there is wrestling being shown on TV, which there is, at least put the best matches on so we can watch them.
No offense, but I'm guessing most of us would rather watch Iowa at Oklahoma State than Indiana at Michigan State. One of those duals was on TV this season. Just not the one that should've been.
The best meets should have the best coverage with the best announcers. And we shouldn't have to pay for a subscription on a website to watch it.
You don't have to pay for a webcast to watch college basketball games involving major conference schools at the NCAA Division I level. They're all on TV. Even the ones involving two teams with losing records.
But when the two winningest programs meet on the wrestling mat, you can't find the match anywhere on television.
And that's sad to see.
When a friend messaged me Sunday to say that Iowa's Spencer Lee suffered an upset loss in the dual's first match at 125 pounds, that was the first I had heard of it.
I could've shelled out the money for a subscription to watch the webcast.
But I shouldn't have had to.
It should have been on television.
Wrestling needs to do better.
It's better than a webcast sport. It deserves to be on national television where everyone can watch it.
I've said it for years. You limit your audience by making people pay to watch your sport. And you certainly don't grow or expand it.
When Oklahoma State and Iowa wrestle, we shouldn't have to ask if the match is going to be televised.
It should be automatic that it will be shown somewhere on television.
These two great wrestling programs deserve better coverage than they're getting.
And the fans certainly deserve better.