Is football too big?
Jim Grammer, When it was a game
I love the game of college football, but nowadays I wonder if it (major college football) has become a little too big for its own jersey. I'm not particularly talking about the monstrosity of the physical size of some of the players, but the game itself.
As I have stated before, I firmly believe that most young players are putting all they have into the game and for the right reasons. However, it's the NCAA, the publicity, the big money involved, and in some cases the athletic departments and administrations of the schools, that have got way out of line.
Now you tell me if I am a little crazy or not, but don't it seem that there's something wrong when the head coaches are paid well over a million dollars to coach a football team and it's against the rules for you or me to buy a player lunch? Don't you think that things have got a little wacky?
We are living in a time when athletic departments don't give a hoot about a kid unless he's a star and bringing in big money and recognition for their department. The ordinary, hard working kid doesn't matter anymore.
It even irritates me more that a college will recruit an 18 year old athlete, choose the classes he will take while in their school, and all of those classes are the ones that they know he can pass just to stay eligible to participate in the sport, but not necessarily the classes he needs toward a degree.
The poor kid gives the school and the game four of five of the best years of his life and when his eligibility is over, he is no closer to an earned degree than when he first arrived at the school. Regardless of what you may hear from the NCAA and from college administrations and coaches, this kind of thing happens all the time.
Some of the ruling by the NCAA (an organization that's function is supposedly to govern and regulate college athletics and teach fair play and sportsmanship) are simply crazy. How is a school or athletic department supposed to control all of the actions of its alumni and, in some cases, those that are not alumni?
Is it fair or sportsman like to punish good, hard working kids because some idiot that is not even an alumni of the school offers some poor kid money to sign with a particular school? When the NCAA punishes a school or athletic department, its several years after the event and the only ones punished are the players that happen to be in the program at the time.
Officials of the NCAA have responded to this issue by saying it's the only way to punish the school. What they are saying is that they have to punish somebody, so they just deal-out punishment wherever they can. If this kind of justice is fair, every employee for Enron, even though they had nothing to do with the scandal, should have been executed.
You've got to punish somebody, right NCAA? My dad was right; common sense is not so common.
It was true when I was
playing, and I think it's true today, that most of the kids that sign an athletic scholarship do so to provide themselves a way to earn a college education. Too much money and too much selfishness has worked its way into the world of college athletics and, as always when these two things get control, they have stolen the pride and honor out of the game.
Who do I blame? I blame me and all the others that pay exorbitant prices for tickets, pay to watch on TV, and take the game so seriously that we feel our lives will end if we are defeated on Saturdays.
Maybe we all need to step back and take a good look at what we've done to what was once good in this country. What was once worthwhile and meaningful, and realize it's a sport, that the real benefit of sports is the lessons learned by athletes that can help them throughout their lives.
I yearn for those days again.