Mailbox Monday: Why aren't practices open?

Why aren’t practices open to the public? And if they can’t be open, why can’t the coaches put the practice films on the Internet so that fans can watch practice? What are they trying to hide?

Seriously? There are more than 300 NCAA Division I programs playing men’s basketball. I’m pretty confident in saying that none of those teams would even consider this. Oklahoma Coach Lon Kruger put practice live on the Internet last year. Apparently he didn’t think that was such a great move. This year, they scrapped it in favor of a couple of taped practice specials. It helps when you have a TV contract.

I’ve never understood what the infatuation in this market is with wanting to go to practice. I’ve been a fan of the University of Missouri since birth and have never even considered going to watch practice. When I used to cover UALR for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, I used to attend practice 3-4 times per week. It wasn’t because I like watching practice. Most of the time it was like watching paint dry. I used to work on my weekly stories while I watched. I didn’t go because it was a fun way to spend an afternoon. It was because it gave me some insight as to what they were trying to do on game days. Fans don’t need that insight. This insight is needed as a media member when you’re challenged with writing a number of stories throughout the year.

The reality is, this time of year, that coaches aren’t hiding anything at practice. They just don’t want distractions. And spectators at practice are the definition of distraction. It’s the reason the majority of Division I practices are closed. At UALR, practices were closed by the Athletic Director. Had folks attending practices not abused the privilege of being there, they might still be open.

The reality is that 25 years ago there wasn’t the risk that’s involved with letting people in to watch practice. They weren’t posting on message boards and they weren’t all carrying video cameras (almost every phone is a video camera).

UALR fans get the same preseason access to their team as most everyone else. UALR no longer plays a maroon-silver game. But they do have Meet The Trojans. UALR, like many other schools, plays two closed scrimmages instead of exhibition games. Why? You can play better competition in an environment that lets you experiment without repercussions. 

Stay patient. You'll get plenty of opportunities to see UALR's players this year.