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Watching the Deacs--a look at the challenges and opportunities of a smaller fanbase

Something that has always bothered me (and a lot of Wake fans) is the lack of exposure for the Demon Deacons. It's understandable I suppose--we are the small fish amongst the North Carolina ACC teams. We don't nearly have the fan base that those schools (and the other ACC schools) have. And without a tv network--like the Big Ten Network--or an "exclusive," almost syndicated program much like the SEC, the challenges are even greater.

Sure, the ACC will hit a Thursday or Saturday night game for the better teams, and ESPNU has really helped, but unless you're in the Raycom viewing area, you're almost out of luck.

But what has helped?

Thanks to advances in technology and creative thinking, it has become a lot easier to see the Deacs than it used to be.

I'm a vocal critic of ESPN. That much is widely known. I believe they focus far too much on a core group of clichéd teams and stories, regardless of whether or not they are successful (Cowboys) or played out to the point that people simply do not care (Brett Favre). I've thought for a long time that a new, competitive network (and I'm not talking Fox Sports) would do wonders for the sports nut, and would only serve to better ESPN as a company. But I'll tackle that next week.

That said, ESPN has made improvements to help sports fans get more. And these are good signs and steps in the right direction. As mentioned, ESPNU has helped. And the new ESPN Goalline on Time Warner (and others?) is a nice way to spend a Saturday. Goalline is the college football version of NFL Redzone essentially.

But there are really two ways to watch the Deacs on a regular basis--ESPN Gameplan and ESPN3. Gameplan is nice, but it is hard to justify paying essentially $10+ to watch a Wake game. So you go to a bar, or you shell out the money. And at bars, I've certainly heard this enough:

Me: Hey, can you guys get the Wake Forest game today?
Waitress: Who?
Me: Wake Forest.
Waitress: Who are they playing?
Me: [insert team...let's say NC State]
Waitress: Hold on... [two to three minutes] My manager says we might have it.
Me: Might?
Waitress: Well there's an Ohio State game on.
Me: You guys can't get me one TV? You have like 30 of them.
Waitress: But Ohio State is on.
Me: You realize not everyone likes Ohio State right?
Waitress: But we're in Ohio...I'm sorry. The Ohio State game is on.
Me: Great.

So now what? Well a few years ago (and really up until last week for Time Warner customers), I'd be out of luck. Looks like it's turrible GameCast for me. But luckily, the internet has really changed everything. There are sites (I won't pimp them because I'm sure it's not exactly "legal") that show feeds of the game from a tv to computer connection. And there's ESPN3.

ESPN3 shows a bunch of regional games--not to mention their recent development of showing ESPN3 ONLY games, with really some SPECIAL commentators. And wouldn't you guess it? Wake Forest really wears those games out. Look, I know it's hard to market and televise a bad team. I get that. But it is nice to be able to see said bad team.

But with a little work, the experience isn't terrible. Hooking up a computer to a tv is easy these days, and with HD streaming, it's almost like watching the game on a cable channel. So all is not lost.

But here's hoping that we'll be an Ohio State in football or UNC in basketball someday...a boy can dream, right?