Dear College Football Fans,
Please get off your high horse and stop being hypocritical. Sorry, but I’m not sorry that Christian McCaffrey is skipping the Hyundai Sun Bowl, and I am definitely not sorry that Leonard Fournette is skipping the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl. Why should they play? In a sport where violence and collisions are encouraged, and as running backs they take more hits than anyone else, what incentive do they have to play in these insignificant games?
Now don’t get me wrong, the bowl games have significance to the NCAA and its member schools. They are a nice award to those invited to participate in them and a nice trip for these student athletes to take. But let’s be honest, a total of three bowl games now have true significance to the season, and to crowning a champion. The rest of these are glorified participation games and another opportunity for the NCAA and its member institutions to make some money off their athletes. At the end of the day, it is a business, no matter how much the average fan looks at it as a game. And at the end of the day, these two young men made very smart business decisions for themselves. But now we want to burn them at the stake for putting their futures first?
The NCAA preaches the value of the student-athlete, and how the education they receive will be far more valuable for their future than any compensation they could receive for their athletic participation. But these two young men will be signing multi-million dollar contracts, not for the education they got, but because they are world class athletes and football players. If a student were to forego their senior year to sell some business start-up for millions we would applaud their entrepreneurial abilities and intuitions, but when an athlete puts their future first it is wrong.
These two young men don’t need any more game tape to improve their draft stock like other players. They don’t need to take any more hits and potentially lose multi-millions either (Jaylon Smith). Is it a team sport? Yes. Could they be viewed as bailing on their team? Yes. But it isn’t like they are bailing on a chance at a championship. They are bailing on a participation opportunity to go improve their craft for their future employment opportunity. They are looking out for their future financial stability and family’s financial stability.
The NFL Combine can be just as much to blame for these players choosing not to participate. The Combine is a completely different animal to train for, not similar to how they would be training for games, and by playing in the bowl game they are giving up valuable time to better those tests and maybe make some more money by getting drafted higher.
Also, we are not in the position to judge these young men’s characters based on their decision to not play in these games. They, for the first time in their collegiate careers, are putting themselves first. Heck, maybe if they were able to bring in some extra cash from their image and likeness and market themselves in these games, they would stick around and play. But that takes away from the integrity of the NCAA, and the amateur nature of the sport so that can’t be done. What else do you want these athletes to do for you? Shouldn’t we be grateful for the effort they put in for your team? Be honest, no Stanford fan or LSU fan is going to say, “Damn, 2016 was a great year, we were the Sun/Citrus Bowl Champions!” Get real. These were two teams that had down years, are playing in glorified exhibition games, and two guys did what they felt was best for them. Who are we to judge?
Am I supporting athletes bailing on their team for individual goals? No. But I am supporting these two young men taking advantage of a situation and doing what they believe is best for them. I am supporting athletes that want to make sure they can take full advantage of the result of their God-given abilities and hard work that they have put in thus far.
Will this be a trend? Who knows? I don’t think it will turn into an epidemic. But it is an interesting start for the collegiate athletes beginning to take control of their lives; preparing themselves for their occupation and the real world. That’s what college is all about anyways, right?