3 Ways to Make the WBC the Next Great Tournament in Professional Sports
The third World Baseball Classic will kick off this coming Saturday, as Japan will look to defend its title against some deep teams from the United States, Venezuela and others.
Seeing how each country's rosters shape up and comparing those rosters to others from around the world is always a lot of fun, but so far the tournament has yet to take off in popularity.
It remains to be seen if it will ever be able to rival something like the FIFA World Cup, but here are a few things the tournament could do to make the WBC the next great international tournament in professional sports.
Play the Entire Tournament in One Country
As far as single-sport international tournaments go, soccer's World Cup is the one by which all others are compared.
Much of its popularity has to do with the fact that the popularity of soccer spans the entire globe, and much like the Olympics, being named the host country for the World Cup is a big deal.
This time around, pool play of the WBC will be played in Japan, Taiwan, Puerto Rico and the United States.
Bringing the entire tournament to one country, and perhaps even one city or state, would allow fans attending the tournament to take in the entire field of talent and bring a much more cohesive feel to the entire tournament.
Reach TV Deal with ESPN or Another Basic Cable Network
One of the biggest problems surrounding the WBC right now is the casual fan's inability to watch the tournament.
This year, every game of the WBC will be televised on MLB Network and the same goes for the 2017 tournament when it rolls around.
That's all fine and good for those who subscribe to MLB Network, but for those who don't, the best fans can do for WBC coverage is catching highlights on SportsCenter.
Bringing the tournament to a wider audience via ESPN or some other basic cable network would go a long way towards boosting the popularity of the WBC.
Offer Players Financial Incentive
The biggest issue with the WBC right now is the lack of player participation. Sure, there are plenty of superstars representing a wide range of countries, but look no further than Team USA.
Will the World Baseball Classic Ever Take off in Popularity?
Guys like Ryan Braun, R.A. Dickey and David Wright are there. However, there is no Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, David Price or Jered Weaver in the rotation. No Josh Hamilton, Buster Posey or Matt Kemp in the lineup.
The WBC rosters are impressive collections of talent, but they are by no means a representation of the very best each team has to offer.
There is no way to make participation in the WBC mandatory among players, but offering some sort of financial incentive could help lure more talent.
Whether it is a bonus for being named to the team, a bonus for winning the tournament or another incentive altogether, deeper rosters are the only real way to make the WBC more popular.
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