Monday, March 31, 2014

Let's All Take College Football Down a Notch

The reality of college football: Violence and severe injury.
I'm slowly coming around to the Ralph Nader conclusion (here) that money-generating college sports should be eliminated or vastly renovated at the scholarship level. That's everything above Division III where there are no athletic scholarships.

Athletes are basically unprotected, under-appreciate, free labor for football factories that spend upwards of $75 million a year on their franchises and pay head coaches more than $4 million a year. The athletes often get a dubious education and many are left with little time for study or class after spending 40 to 50 hours a week on football-related activities. A lot of these splendid athletes get to college without the ability to function at even the most basic level in an academic setting and little willingness among the colleges and universities to train them for what's ahead--outside the football stadium.

Their bodies are abused (the injury rate in major college football is more than 100 percent per year with some athletes suffering two or three per year and many having permanent disabilities--like me with a bad knee) and when they are hurt, they are simply discarded. They have no real uniform protection (like unions) and are at the mercy of their coaches and school administrations. They are not allowed to be paid for their work.

They are the "gladiators" and we the blood-thirsty crowds who care little for their futures once we've finished watching them perform. If that sounds harsh, I don't believe it is any harsher than the reality of using and abusing our young people for this dubious level of entertainment.

All that being said, I will plead "guilty" to being a college football fan. I would be willing, however, to attend a University of Tennessee-Alabama football game where the athletes are at the same amateur level of those you'll see when Washington & Lee plays Bridgewater. It's about the competition for me and when I'm 50 yards away in the upper deck at Neyland Stadium, I can't tell if the guy's 6-3, 240 pounds or 5-10, 180 or if he runs a 4.3-second 40-yard-dash, or a 5.2. I can see if he catches the pass and scores with it, though, and that's what it's about for me.

We'll mention here, as well, that the W&L and Bridgewater kids can generally read, have solid work prospects with their educations, and don't often suffer massive injury. And that's a good thing.

(Photo from

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