Like many people, I will be watching the NCAA Football Championship game tonight. Clemson will play Louisiana State University starting at 8:00 and it’s broadcast here in Canada on TSN. Actually, looking at the television guide, the pre-pre-pre-pre-game show starts at 1:30 this afternoon.
University football is kind of a big thing. I remember the games at Seagram Stadium where both the University of Waterloo and Wilfred Laurier University played their home games when I was going to school. According to the link above, it seats 6 000 fans. While I wasn’t a regular at all the games, the ones that I did attend weren’t exactly jammed pack.
In second year, my roommate played for Laurier and I got to meet many of the players when they would drop by. I don’t recall any of them having any illusions that they were going to play in the NFL. Some of them did end up in the CFL though. But, they stayed in school and got their degree before moving on.
I couldn’t help but think about the difference in university football between Canada and the United States as I read this story.
It was kind of difficult to imagine football taking over university life, at least as I know it. Even the venue is considerably different. The Superdome can seat 75 000+ people for this event. That’s just unfathomable to me for a university sporting event.
Does the expression “university sporting event” even ring true though? Soon, there will be players that leave their school without a degree so that they might be drafted into the NFL.
Then, this. While they may aspire at one time to represent their school in a big Bowl Game,
The biggest reason often is the desire not to get injured and hurt their chances at getting drafted and a big professional contract.
To pretend that it’s an active part of university life really seems silly. Yes, there will be cheering squads and bands, and the stands will be painted with school colours.
And graduates will be hit up for donations after the game to maintain the program.
But look beyond all that and see what’s left.
Since the goal really seems to be to train players for a professional sporting career, is it time to change the mindset away from this being a school activity? What if each professional football team ended up sponsoring college teams and providing services and really make it a minor league designed for training for the big league? For many, that’s all it is.
It’s probably not realistic but at least there would be a legitimacy to explain how things are handled and a club to make sure that players play. Skip a Bowl Game and you become ineligible for the big team.
I know that it’s not workable and tonight will be a really, really big show. Despite my thoughts above, I will be watching.