College Playoffs? Ugh.
Once, I defended college football as an activity that brought together students and alums, young and old, in a way no other collegiate activity did. But, that was in a time when games were played on Saturday afternoons. I spent many good days tailgating before Stanford games or walking through the Cal campus before games.
Those days are long gone. Now we have TBA (to be announced) starting times for games because everything is geared to television. Games are scheduled for odd times, including Friday night games for Cal and Stanford, at a time when traffic is frantic. It’s especially bad for Cal fans, many of whom have to walk more than a mile from where they’ve parked.
The Pac-12 even has its own network and games are scheduled at weird times to fit the schedule. Stanford had one game this year which started at 10 a.m.
But, the couch potatoes don’t care. Most of them have no allegiance to a school. They’re playing in Fantasy leagues or betting on the games.
The bowls suffer, too. Many people ridiculed the old bowl system, which had many flaws, but they were a reward for the players, especially those whose teams played in the Rose, Cotton, Sugar or Orange bowls. Those were the ones with tradition, the Rose being the oldest. Players got to visit pleasant sites and were often treated to special events.
Now, it’s all about the couch potatoes. They’re hoping this is only the beginning and that college football adopts a system similar to the “March Madness” of college basketball, with 64 teams involved.
But, basketball is much different. We’re not hearing about basketball players suffering concussions or retired basketball players having serious mental problems, even dying early because of head injuries.
It’s bad enough that NFL players are suffering from these injuries but at least they’re being well paid. As we’ve been reading in the last couple of years, the scholarship money athletes get doesn’t even cover basic essentials. And it’s absolutely forbidden that athletes make any money outside that. Only the schools are allowed to benefit from their efforts.
This house of cards will collapse in the near future. There are pending lawsuits now and sanity will soon prevail. I can’t predict whether it will be in the form of salaries or being able to get money from outside activities but the current system is ridiculous. Coaches are paid $5 million a year – Michigan is paying Jim Harbaugh more than that with bonuses written into his contract for the next six years – while athletes get no more than a scholarship? In what alternate universe does that work?
The original rationale for college football was that it paid for sports which brought in virtually no money. Now, with coaches salaries going through the roof and expensive practice facilities, relatively few schools even break even on football.
So, enjoy it while you can, couch potatoes. The bubble will soon burst.
What do YOU think? Let me know!
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