Bowl games used to mean the world to college football players.
Getting six wins in a season and becoming bowl eligible used to be the mark of a good year for most college teams outside of the elite, but with the new college football playoff system here, the importance of bowl games have been diminished.
This negligent attitude towards bowls outside of the New Year’s Six games has been made evident in recent years, especially this year.
Two of college football’s premier players, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffery, have opted to sit out their team’s final bowl games in order to prepare themselves for the upcoming NFL Draft.
Fournette and McCaffery represent the duality of the business of college football where players are being exploited nationally for monetary values out of this world but not getting compensated for it. This lack of compensation is what results in these type of big name players foregoing games and seasons of eligibility that they may have in order to enter the NFL where they will get paid to play.
With these things in mind, the real question is what is truly more important: Your school or your future?
There are multiple ways you can look at this and multiple layers to peel off this giant onion that is creating a stench around the prestige of college football.
There are many who believe that once you sign that letter of intent to play at a school, that you owe it to that school to play out at least three years. Many people have that traditional mindset that it’s a privilege to play a college sport and be awarded a full ride scholarship to do so and this is understandable. In a time where tuition for the majority of college students is going up and those loans and debts are growing by the day, it is a privilege to be able to go to a school for free and play a sport that you love.
But again, this is where the duality comes in.
Playing a sport in college and having to go to school is an extremely difficult task. Heck, playing the game of football alone is very difficult and taxing on the body. The pounding that you take day in and day out for the better part of nine months throughout the year really takes a toll on the athlete, especially those who have a shot at the NFL. Looking at it from this perspective, you can’t blame Fournette and McCaffery for sitting out because again, what they do on the field and the amount of exposure they garner for the sport and their schools is in no way beneficial to them while they are a college athlete because they cannot be paid. Now, some will say that the scholarship equals the payment, but in general, any full ride is worth about $200,000 while top picks in the NFL Draft make at least $450,000 in base salary with multi-million dollar signing bonuses on top of that. The two don’t carry the same weight.
My opinion: although college athletes do need to be paid, I think Fournette and McCaffery owe it not necessarily for their school but for their teammates who have propelled them to these heights they have reached where they are considered high NFL Draft picks. They owe it to those guys who became their family over the past three or four years, who have battled every single day with them, through every practice and every game, through the ups and downs and have been by their side through it all. If anything, do it for those guys who went to war with you every week and did the dirty work so that you guys could shine. Do it for the coaches who gave you a chance to be a college athlete and prepared you, loved you and cared for you in such a way that you now are in this position as the elite that the game has to offer. Do it for the fans who paid money week after week to watch you guys play and cheered you on whether you scored 4 touchdowns or you only had 30 yards.
Do it for the people who really care… those are the people you owe one more game to.
Do you think that Fournette and McCaffery should have played in their bowl games? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3