The NFL Lockout is a big deal. A really big deal and we've seen it affect the college game; first in the NFL Draft discussion which ultimately proved useless, then in the tv scheduling what if game with college football and now we're seeing it intrude upon our game again. This time the intrusion is less the NFL "affecting" the college game on the field or how we consume it and more directly altering or clouding the way people view and appreciate the collegiate game that we all know and love.
The "I Love College Sports Because They Can't Have A Lockout" mentality.
I've seen it on the twitter and most notably we've seen it out of one of college football's most known voices; CBS's Dennis Dodd. The sentiment has been echoed, rather parroted, by so many people time and again it is becoming a lot of die-hard college football fans selling point for why they think college is better than the NFL.
Freaking stop. Seriously people, stop. This is the sort of perverse logic that gives people like me headaches and makes me question how I can join in loving a sport when so many of its other supporters care so little about anything but their own entertainment. Now, I don't care to get deep into the NFL lockout issues because that opens up an entirely separate debate and while I hope you can tell from tweets, posts and the like that I'm far more apt to side with the players this isn't exactly the forum for me to expound on why.
However, this is the ideal forum for me to say stop it. Stop the "I love college because they can never have a lockout" championing. It is selfish. It is ridiculous. Ultimately if that's your stance it says a lot about how little you give a damn about the kids involved and how much higher you value your own entertainment. The old "fuck them, just make me happy on Saturday" approach.
Now, in Dodd's defense he worked to couch his article differently than the others. He framed it as college football being a superior sport because "nobody is bigger than the game" citing the sport continuing without Tressel or Pryor or Meyer or other figures that seemed so essential just a year or so ago. Framing the owners, coaches and players in the NFL all as part of the problem as guys who were "larger than the game" in this labor dispute.
Problem is we're talking apples to oranges in those comparisons. Sure if you want to discuss the "game will go on" through the transient nature of the game, the interchangeable parts and the seeing guys matriculate through the system as part of why you think it is better, go ahead. But, then you've got to compare similar NFL qualities to draw parallels; the draft, player development, trades, coaches being hired and fired and of course free agency.
Thing is, in that regard, the NFL's just as fluid in general, even more so in some instances. The NFl goes on when coaches retire, when they get fired, when players leave, when players disappoint and when guys are disgraced. Same as at the college level. Falcons had seasons after the Vick situation, same as the Buckeyes will go on after the Tressel-Pryor debacle. The Redskins kept trucking after Joe Gibbs retired just like Florida hired someone else once Urban Meyer stepped down for real. Freshmen come in, just like rookies and veterans retire just like seniors graduate.
Doesn't seem to be a ton of difference if you're debating parallels.
The issues in the NFL lockout are real; they might not be real to you, but to other folks it is there livelihood and when you're arguing terms of payment and work conditions employees and employers have to reach an agreement to make things work smoothly. Here is where I find it sickening that folks champion college sports for the inability to have a lockout or a strike.
You're standing up and being glad that the players have no voice. That's what you're doing. You're standing up and co-signing the fact that the "employees" or "laborers" in this system can be made to do whatever the "management" or "owners" wants them to do without dispute.
While we can't discuss money for college athletes because they already don't get paid, let me frame this argument in the most NFL parallel scenario that I can:
NCAA-ADs-Conference Commissioners-School Presidents wants to bump the regular season up to 14 games, increase practice times to 30 hours a week from the current 20 and they'd like to cut down scholarships to just tuition, room & board and 8 meals a week not 10.
For your sake that means more football and since the players can't dispute it or disagree it can be forced into fruition with just a vote of the management personnel.
The players have no collective voice, the players have no person to stand up and say "this is too much." The players have no ability to protest these new rules in whole or in part. And you're ok with that because for what you stand for all that matters is those boys "shut up and play" just like the NFL.
Keep in mind I'm not calling for the players to unionize; not because I'm opposed to the idea but more so because I don't know how they can, logistically. I'm not the type to say "they should do x,y,z but I don't know how, let someone smarter figure it out." If I can't see a way to make it work I'm not going to champion for it (see my stance on paying players and the Title IX conundrum).
No, the unionization isn't my point, my point is stop this sick, skewed and screwed up attempt to "champion" college football. It isn't a good thing that the players have to just bend over and take whatever the hell the people running the system decide.
And yes, I understand that the NCAA is supposed to be the advocate for student athletes in all of this but forgive me for not entirely being sold on how well they fulfill that role. There are times they won't let someone pony up cash so a kid can visit an ailing family member, you think I expect them to be on their A-game if conferences decide two more games a season and ten more hours of practice a week are "essential" to the college football experience?
Now don't get me wrong folks, I love college football. It is far and away my favorite sport on planet earth. Even with its warts it is the game I love the most. I like to think that passion and love for the game comes through with most everything I do on the site, every podcast and every radio spot. I guess the biggest difference is I love the sport top to bottom.
It isn't just something beamed into my house on Thursdays, Saturdays and a handful of Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. It's not just me going to be entertained at a massive arena on a fall weekend. I love the sport, most notably, the players because they're the ones that make this system go. Perhaps it is because I've lived that life; to so many playing college football is just "a privilege" just something that some kids "are lucky to get to do" and I see it as so much more than that.
It is hard work. It is sacrifice. It is bleeding and crying and not wanting to get out of bed due to soreness and feeling like you're about to pass out a couple times every single week all year round just to get to run out of that tunnel on Saturdays in the fall.
I want folks to love college football, but love it for the right reasons. Loving it because the players have to do what they're told is not the the right reason.
Not even close.
Love it for the pageantry. Love it for the strategy. Love it for the fact that there are 17-23 year old young men out there putting their bodies on the line to achieve one common goal. Love it for the friendships built. Love it for the smiles on kids faces. Love it for the rivalries.
Don't create a bogus reason to love the game just because it plays well into your fall tv schedule. That's not right. Not right at all.
"This is the sort of perverse logic that gives people like me headaches and makes me question how I can join in loving a sport when so many of its other supporters care so little about anything but their own entertainment."
I love that line. I feel the same way about the NFL lockout. It really amazed me to see how many people claim to love a sport but really have no care or concern for the people who play the game (even when the treatment of those people directly affects the game's health and longevity!)
Fans have a twisted relationship with athletes...on the one hand they worship them as heroes and are many times jealous, on the other hand they (almost always wrongly) believe on some level that if they had been a little taller or pushed a little more as a kid they'd have been a star collegiate athlete or in the NFL. So the value they place on these kids and adult players is a lot lower than it should be. And it too often shows in the commentary.
I do watch college football but not regularly. Having been friends with most of the football team at Temple when I was there I know what they go through to be out there on Saturdays and I can't enjoy the games as much as I want to. The same way many people say that they have issues with watching the NFL because something about it makes them fundamentally uncomfortable.
I'm an NFL watcher because I LOVE the story lines, but when I read college football story lines I get way too caught up and angry at how these young men are often demoralized. I still keep up with the latest on Eric LeGrande, my heart went out to Terrell Pryor and Cam Newton. When the guys are young it's more than just stories in my mind. And I can never boil any sport down to just "entertainment" there's always something deeper for me. I guess it's not for those who like their athletes to be voiceless.
@JDanielle Thanks for the comment and I totally agree about the voiceless quality and using it as "just entertainment." People often forget that when the clock hits 0:00 these players are just people. Hell, in college they're kids. 17-23 year old kids that still have every issue all other people do at that age; girlfriends, parents, classes, insecurities and the like.
I enjoy the games but that's because I can ultimately identify with these boys. I've done it. I know it isn't easy and I know they go through far more than the average person understands. It's hard work, nothing is "given" to the kids.
Thanks @ImJDan and I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss going forward.
I completely understand and vouch for this sentiment. It's always bigger than just wanting your own entertainment, because these are people's jobs and livelihoods. Everyday on Twitter I see someone ask the NFL players to make concessions they never would at their own jobs, and never understand the correlation between how it looms in their lives the way their own job does in theirs.
It never helps to advocate one form form of the sport over another, and doing it on compensation lines is the worst place to start. For me, the separation between the pro and college game always lays in the spirit of the game. And that is derived from struggle to get over that is very clear in daily life of a college football player. While I didn't play in school, I was friends with many players at my school (Mizzou) and they had a bond formed from the struggle and work together to make it over, year around, based only on the hope of making their mark on a program they have much pride for.
I enjoy both levels of Football, but for me, they are always incomparable, yet highly enjoyable. For totally different reasons and feelings.
- Matt Whitener (@CheapSeatFan)
@CheapSeatFan Thanks Matt. For me I don't advocate one for as better generally. I "like" college football more but I definitely don't think that it is better than the NFL. Folks often confuse what they "enjoy" more with what is better. I like First Blood Part II better than First Blood Pat I as a Rambo movie but I know it isn't better.
As for the whole arguemnt. Yeah, this got me riled up. Really just sticks in my crawl about the way the people can champion for a sport on the basis that the players can't stand up for themselves.