Selection Sunday ranks among the coolest days on the calendar in hundreds of thousands of households across America.
For Brian Frederick, oldest of the late former Kansas University athletic director Bob Frederick’s four sons, it took on even deeper meaning when his father served as chairman of the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
Now, Brian plays an important role in Washington, D.C., in trying to turn the dream of putting a second Selection Sunday on the calendar into reality.
Frederick is Executive Director of the Sports Fans Coalition in Washington.
The organization advocates lifting TV blackouts of sporting events, containing ticket prices and pushing for a college football playoff.
“You know what, the absolute hardest part about this job is there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t just want to pick up the phone and talk to my dad,” Brian Frederick said of Bob, who died in June, 2009, after a cycling accident. “There are so many issues I’d want to talk to him about. So much knowledge and experience, and it’s just gone.”
Brian finds himself on the opposite side of an issue from one of his father’s close friends, executive director of the Bowl Championship Series, Bill Hancock, universally beloved in the collegiate sports world.
“He’s a great man in a really bad job,” Frederick said. “I don’t think anyone would want to have to defend the BCS.”
The BCS has exceeded my expectations in that most years, it seems, the two best teams wind up playing each other for the national title. But a playoff system would blow away the BCS in large part because of two words that soothe the ears almost as much as “one putt”: office pools.
Workers who don’t know a quarterback from a cornerback would tune their TV sets to all 15 games of a 16-team playoff. It would elevate college football to the top of the nation’s sports world.
What can sports fans do to let their voices be heard?
“They can start by joining the organization,” Frederick said.
I did. It’s so easy, I didn’t even need to call IT for help. All you do is go to sportsfanscoalition.org and fill out four boxes: first name, last name, e-mail address, postal code.
“There are millions who want a playoff and never felt it was something they should be politically active about,” Frederick said. “That’s why the situation endures. Fans haven’t stood up and said enough is enough.”
Frederick said he will have coffee today with the head of the playoff political action committee to see how they can help each other.
Before taking on his new adventure, Frederick worked for Media Matters, a left-wing media watchdog organization. Frederick received his Ph.D. in communications from Colorado University and did his dissertation on the NBA and sports media, centering on the infamous Detroit Pistons-Indiana Pacers brawl.
“My friends joke I got a Ph.D. in basketball, and that drives my brother (Brad, assistant coach at Vanderbilt) crazy because he knows I have no game,” Brian said.
No game, but he does have a cause.
Here’s wishing him luck.