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January 4th, 2008

College Sports

Please, someone explain to me why everyone goes absolutely ga-ga over college sports. Besides the fact that it’s now a big business.

I went to a school without sports. It was lovely. But bowl games, playoffs, all that stuff… just seems… pointless. Convince me otherwise.

Posted in Sports

Monica January 4, 2008, 4:28 pm

I can understand one argument I’ve heard in favor of college basketball over pro. basketball–college teams play as a team not as individuals up for sponsorships, and that makes college games more fun to watch.
But I don’t get the ga-ga-ness. Not for pro. sports either.

jk January 4, 2008, 5:14 pm

I am nearly speechless because it never occurred to me that someone out there might not understand this.

To me, it’s a logical extension of my loyalty to my school. I can’t say I follow EVERY sport though. Basketball bores me and I don’t understand the appeal of wrestling. Football however is something else….110,000 people in a loud stadium, what’s not to love?

Having a football coach who has stayed at the school for almost 58 seasons is a definite morale booster.

Ryan January 4, 2008, 9:55 pm

I used to enjoy it when I was younger (pre-college age). There was something more raw about the game that made it interesting.

Now, though, I have near-zero interest in it. I also realized that people that are more than five years out of college and are really into college sports (for teams of schools other than the one they attended) seem kind of weird to me. Why would a 40 year old guy care at all about the Army-Navy game when he went to Hofstra?

Ryan January 5, 2008, 4:28 pm

jk — Following your own school makes perfect sense, I think. It’s people who have zero connection to a school that follow them for no apparent reason.

However, that said, I guess that’s not much different from why we like pro teams. I mean, the reason I give for why I’m a Cowboys fan even though I’ve never been to Texas is that “I’ve liked them since I was a kid because my dad liked the Eagles.”

So, what I’m saying, is that I’m a hypocrite.

Reed January 5, 2008, 10:47 pm

First of all, I don’t think anyone goes ga-ga over college sports _because_ it’s now a big business. Most fans seem to hate that.

Full disclosure here: I spent the past college football season traveling across the country going to a different game in a different place every week. I met thousands of fans and drove over 20,000 miles in the process (click on my URL for details). So I can certainly attest that many people would take issue with your above request. They’d say, now can you _not_ go ga-ga over this stuff? But I’ll try to answer your question going one point at a time.

1) Affiliation. People’s affiliation to a pro sports team is pretty much based on wherever they happened to grow up or because they liked the uniforms when they were a kid. Nothing too deeply ingrained there. But when it comes to college teams, the fans either attended that school (of their own choosing), or their family did. There’s a reason people care so much more about these games because of that. Furthermore, the players are not free agents who took the biggest dollars or draftees who had no choice. They opted for the school as well. They came to campus the same way the fans did and chose the school.

2) Significance. In a column this week, Bill Simmons spoke of the recent Patriots/Giants game and claimed it was great because, “Both teams giving a crap.” This is so rare in the NFL that he had to point it out. In college, the system is set up so that EVERY game matters. You can be knocked out of national championship or even conference championship contention by losing a single game. Look at Georgia. Had they not lost to Tennessee this year, they could very well be playing in the national title game. Instead, they pummeled the Rainbows (old name for Miami). Even if your team is not in title contention, having a successful season (making a bowl game, winning that bowl game) gives you and extra month of practice and helps recruit better players to come to your school. So while the casual observer might not care about the Capital One Bowl, it’s of tantamount importance to the teams involved and, even more so, their fans.

3) It’s a better game, one with more ebbs and flows, strategic adjustments, and exciting finishes than the pro game. In the NFL, the athletes are all so good, and the teams are all coached in such a similar way, that they don’t differentiate themselves from one another. In fact, one of the major goals of the NFL and the way it’s set up is “parity.” College football cares not for parity, and in turn is a more interesting game. Upsets are huge surprises, not mere flukes. With 119 teams, though, they happen all the time. I attended the D-III championship game this year, and it was the best football game I’ve seen in person in at least five years. The players may not be as strong as at the higher levels, or certainly the NFL, but a close football game doesn’t depend on stellar competitors displaying their athletic arsenals like baseball or basketball do.

4) It’s fun as hell to root for these teams. Defeat is truly agonizing and victory is God’s sweetest nectar. It’s just different than other sports. For an example of how much people care, take a look at Mississippi State carrying their trophy off the field after winning the Liberty Bowl. Listen to their fans. It ain’t pro sports. Thank goodness.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDs_-bzNqLQ

Steve A January 10, 2008, 1:31 am

What I’m about to say is classified as heresay in the south. Colleges and universities are about EDUCATION not sports.

I swear, NC in particular ranks it’s schools not based on how their students do in academics rather gridiron or court. I don’t get it.

Belated Happy New Year All,

Ciao,

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