Contributed by Auggie
I was once asked by a foreigner, “why do American colleges have sports teams - isn’t the purpose of college to get an education?” This is a good question, and as I searched for an answer I simultaneously tried to discern their objective for asking. Was this an honest attempt to understand American culture, or a sarcastically delivered rhetorical question meant to imply it’s an idiotic tradition? I believe the language barrier scrambled the normal cues and I never did discern the questioner’s true objective. I answered it anyway. I tried sounding educational but smattered in a defensive tone just to cover the sarcastic scenario if that was indeed their angle. I rattled off something about college being an opportunity to experience many aspects of life and grow in different ways, and when sporting was becoming popular college was an ideal environment for young men and women to compete with people of similar interests, ages and skill level, and how it has evolved over the years to where it is now. Blah blah blah.
I still don’t know why the person asked, and I still don’t know the answer, but this much I do know: College football has become far too important to far too many people. I need only to look at the last two weeks for examples to explain my view.
Exhibit A: According to recent reports Congress was set to review and vote on a bill that could potentially end the current BCS (Bowl Championship Series) method of determining a college football national champion and force a playoff system instead. That would be the U.S. congress in case you are wondering. This boggles my mind - if one member of congress wastes 10 seconds on this issue its 10 seconds too much. Just to clarify - its college football!!! I don’t mind paying my fair share of taxes but I was kind of hoping our representatives would focus on other key issues of the day like the ongoing wars, the state of our economy, healthcare, energy etc. - and stop worrying about college football!!! (Italics mean I’m yelling).
Exhibit B: Alabama has cancelled classes for three days because its team will compete in BCS championship game against Texas on January 7th. The message: football is more important than academics. Apologies to the students paying top dollar because they want an education – there will be no refund for the lost days.
Exhibit C: Brian Kelly, the head coach for Cincinnati this past season just accepted the position as Notre Dame’s new head coach. [Quick background: Kelly just coached the Cincinnati Bearcats to an undefeated regular season and they are now preparing to play Florida in the Sugar Bowl. If Texas had not defeated Nebraska last week with a last second field goal – after the referees added one second to the clock at the end of the game - it would be the Bearcats playing the Alabama Class Cancellers – I mean Crimson Tide, for the national title]. So my first thought when I read the news about Kelly was “how will this affect his preparation for the Sugar Bowl?” Silly me, I now understand it will have no effect at all because he left Cincinnati so fast the door didn’t even graze his butt. I realize this example doesn’t exactly fit with the two above; after all, any of us are free to switch jobs whenever we want and employers are free to unceremoniously dump us in similar fashion. We all make decisions that are in our own best interest. But whatever happened to the old 2-weeks-notice rule? You know, common decency. Kelly’s announcement left some of his former players in tears, and why wouldn’t it? They worked hard all year to go undefeated and earn the right to play in one of the biggest bowl games in school history, and he can’t be bothered to hang around a couple more weeks and help finish the deal. Why? Because college football is soooooooo important that he must immediately get to Notre Dame and start laying to groundwork for returning that school to its rightful elite status. In football I mean.
Look, I’m a huge sports fan and usually find myself defending the sports world against naysayers, but college football just needs to simmer down. Of course, I could be wrong.