Human Interest


The past two years I’ve written about what I think is an excessive number of college football bowl games. There are way too many, as evidenced by the thousands of empty seats in the stadiums and the low television ratings. But I think today’s bowl games have a much bigger problem than attendance and viewership; one that threatens to have long term negative effects on the survival and popularity of the games.

The problem to which I refer is the recent spate of players who have decided not to play in these post season games. It seems that in nearly every bowl game, several players have decided playing in those games was a risk to their future. They fear an injury that would reduce their value to an NFL team and thus their future earnings capability. They claim they are sitting it out to prepare for the NFL draft. I think this is bad for college football just as “NIL” is bad for all of college athletics.

The idea that college football players can opt out of playing in a postseason bowl game is a bunch of hooey! Actually, it’s much more than that! I would equate it with something of more substance that is eliminated by a bovine male. It’s almost criminal. 

Yes, I know I’ve said repeatedly there are too many bowl games, but when a team has a good enough win-loss record to be eligible to play in a bowl game, the players ought to have the decency to shed their narcissistic desires for the benefit of everyone. Being chosen to play in a bowl game can mean millions to a university and its athletic conference. Plus thousands of fans and alumni spend good money to travel across the country to attend what they hope will be a good game. When they get there and find out the starting quarterback has transferred to another school and the All-American wide-receiver and several defensive standouts are not playing in order “to get prepared for the NFL draft,” they are upset.

Get prepared for the NFL draft? What are they talking about? The draft doesn’t happen until April 25th of next year! Why do they need to “get prepared” 4 months in advance? I know, if they play they think they run the risk of injury that could reduce their value to an NFL team. But how do they know they will be drafted or even be good enough to be an undrafted free agent?

I think the decision to forego a bowl game is selfish, narcissistic, and unfair. Unfair to teammates and fans. It’s unfair to alumni who donate thousands of dollars in support of the athletic department. It’s unfair to the inexperienced players who, at the last minute, are tasked with playing in the biggest game of their life, and must fill the shoes of a player who is much more talented than they are. It’s unfair to the coach who has earned a winning reputation because of that player’s talent and performance. It’s unfair to teammates who played alongside the guy who has left the team in the lurch. And it’s incredibly unfair to any loyal fan whose psyche’ is destroyed anytime his beloved team loses a game they should win.  And lose they often do!

In my opinion, there should be some consequence for this decision. I think they should be made to stay home and definitely not be on the sideline or anywhere near the rest of the team. And TV announcers should not seek them out for interviews. Ignore them. If there were some financial disincentive such as forfeiting part of their NIL earnings, that might have an effect. But if you make $2 Million from NIL and forfeit 10% of it, you still have $1.8 Million. At 50% you still have a Million. That’s not very punitive. I think the NFL is also at fault here because it has become too easy for players to quit college and try out for a pro team. The carrots dangled by pro teams are hard to pass up, and no one ever accused most athletes of modesty and common sense. They are all dreamers who think they are the next Peyton Manning or Dick Butkus. 

Well, I really dislike what has happened to college athletics and bowl games, in particular. And refusing to represent your school in the biggest, most lucrative game of the season is a travesty. Selfish, delusional, narcissistic, cocky—call it what you will, but it’s just wrong.

Addendum: The University of Georgia ranked No. 1 all season, who got the shaft when they lost to Alabama in the SEC championship game, played in the Orange Bowl at full roster. Their narcissistic opponent, Florida State University, thought they should be in the final four. In response (or protest), six starters elected not to play, and the defensive line had only one starter in the lineup. At the end of the third quarter the score was 63-3!!! Arrogance and disloyalty have their consequences, don’t they.

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  1. I agree 100%. This whole thing about college football bowl games is a travesty. I’m not sure, but I believe college basketball might be the same.

    1. I haven’t seen players forego the NCAA tournament to prepare for the NBA draft. BUT there are way too many one-and-done-ers.

  2. The athletes sign a one year contract for their scholarship. At least they should be made to return that year’s money (equivalent of having to pay a 2nd plumber after pre-paying the 1st plumber for not completing a job). And in this liberal litigious world, perhaps a lawsuit for damages filed by the networks, bowls, advertisers, and colleges. The value of these bowls for all will necessarily be GREATLY dimished.

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