To Whom it May Concern,
Hello. My name is Chris Forrer, and I cover sports for Linfield College’s award-winning weekly publication, The Linfield Review. I am writing to you to express concern over what I see as a slight against one of the nation’s top athletic departments and my shock that a storied school like Linfield could be treated this way.
I think that it’s fair to say that a large number of people, sports-savvy or not, are aware of the East Coast media bias when it comes to athletics. Sports at every level have an overwhelming information slant that leans East in everything from frequency of coverage, size of media deals and even how quality of play is analyzed.
This doesn’t begin and end with big-time sports like Division-I football and the NBA, either. As a West Coast school, Linfield sports programs receive sparse attention from Division-III pundits, no matter how strong the season or convincing the victory.
Our women’s soccer team just pulled into first place in the Northwest Conference standings, but this week’s regional rankings released by the NCAA had second-place Puget Sound ranked fourth in the West Region.
Linfield was unranked. Looking over recent Top 25 polls on www.d3soccer.com, the only real website devoted to this division of soccer, the women’s team has not been ranked or even received a single vote in any poll all season.
The football program doesn’t have it any better, despite the fact that we still boast the nation’s longest streak of consecutive winning seasons and have made deep playoff runs for the past two years.
Every week, I check the wrap-up of Top 25 play on www.d3football.com, hoping to find a mention of the Wildcats. There has only been one all season, despite numerous pastings of teams that looked pretty damn good before rolling into Maxwell Field, such as Pacific Lutheran or California Lutheran.
This is a team whose defense is allowing less than eight points a game this season and whose special teams has scored at least one touchdown in the past three games, sometimes two.
Oh, and the offense isn’t bad either. They’re only averaging more than 400 yards and 40 points a game. This team is going to threaten perennial contenders University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and Mount Union come playoff time, and the only website dedicated to the in-depth coverage of Division-III ball barely ever gives them mention.
Pundits, this is a message for you: Wake up. The old guard is changing and Linfield is here to sound the death knell.
Puget Sound has a streak of conference championships dating back to 2003 that is now about to come to an end. Their regional ranking is more a reflection of their legacy and status as a nationally recognized contender than it is of their quality of play in the 2011 season.
This is Linfield’s season, and I think it’s time you acknowledge that. Furthermore, this is a squad that has 12 freshmen on roster, many of whom see regular game action.
This team is going to be a force in the NWC for many years to come.
Furthermore, this Wildcat football team is the best I’ve seen in my three years here—a more complete, well-rounded and tight bunch who even Aaron Boehme’s 2009 squad that took UW-Whitewater to the limit in a national semifinal.
I would think as true analysts of D-III ball you would have noticed this by now. If not, I invite you to watch our team in the coming weeks before and during playoffs to see what they’re made of.
I have no doubt your conclusions will be the same as mine.
I look forward to hearing from you and seeing the Wildcats back in the public eye, where they deserve to be during special seasons such as these.
Chris Forrer/Sports columnist
Chris Forrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.