Monday, January 11, 2016

We're Being Bowled Over

College football teams are playing tonight for the "national championship," and this old football fan couldn't care less.

Back when I did care, the college season ended on New Years Day. There were a half dozen or fewer bowl games. The "majors" included the Rose, Cotton, Orange, and Sugar Bowls. This year, a record 41 post-season games cluttered up sports pages and TV. The debacle started Dec. 10 and ends tonight.

I should be contented with results so far. My Wisconsin Badgers scored a bowl win. However, television producers thought so little of their contest that it aired at 10:30 at night. I thought so little of the timing that I taped it and watched a day later. Local favorite Western Michigan also won a bowl encounter, the first one in its history. So much holiday activity was going on at the time, however, I neglected to watch the contest. Son Lee's Minnesota Gophers also were victorious in a bowl, but they only won five regular season games to qualify, an indication of the reduction in quality when 6 bowls become 41. Neither of us watched the UM game.

Time to put a stop to bowl expansion.
We are being subjected to football overkill, and it just may end up killing the sport. Plenty of empty seats were in evidence when cameras gave us a glimpse of the "crowds" at some of the games. We also are being subjected to some nonsensical rhetoric by those who profit from the bowls--the overpaid coaches and athletic directors.

In most cases, the schools aren't among the financial winners. Consider the Western Michigan situation. The Broncos played in Popeyes Bahamas Bowl in Christmas Eve. If that name sounds ridiculous, it seems a step up in class from last year's appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, the Potato Bowl trip cost the school $913,542. It was rewarded with a payback of $475,000. This year, the Western athletic director didn't provide details, but claimed the loss would be less. One reason is the Bahamas Bowl doesn't require participants to bring their marching band, nor does it demand the school pay for a specific number of tickets in advance. Nevertheless, there will be a loss when all the numbers are in.

The athletic director shrugs that off with one of the most ridiculous comments being repeated in sports interviews. AD Kathy Beauregard said, "I don't look at it like a loss. I look at the fact that we're going to be on ESPN at noon on Dec. 24 worldwide. So, you're going to be able to watch Western Michigan University for three-and-a-half hours on primetime television across the world. That's invaluable promotion for our great university."

Kathy, that really is a load of pure horse manure.

Find me a promising student who decides to attend Western because the football team played in Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, and I'll show you a nitwit that won't last six weeks at any reputable college. The only students who attend colleges because of the football program are the football players, and perhaps those intending to try out for cheerleading.

I'm pretty sure MIT has no football team, but last I heard students were fighting to get in. Ditto, Cal Poly. The University of Chicago, after years as a national power in the sport, dropped major-conference football in 1939. Enrollment and financial backing from alumni declined slightly for a time, but then rebounded and Chicago went on to become one of the premiere universities in the U.S. When's the last time Yale or Harvard played football in a bowl? When's the last time those schools didn't have a huge list of students seeking to enroll?

Instead of preaching a lot of nonsense to us, athletic directors might better spend their time thinking of ways to rekindle interest in college football. Nationally, attendance dropped 1 percent last year, following a 4 percent decline the year before. I'm betting 2015 numbers also will show a decline. Too much of anything is not a good thing.


Rummuser said...

You have football and we have cricket. I despair for our young people. Nothing but an opiate. said...

I am pulling for the Packers, although I never watch any games, nor can I name a single player...its a family thing. Attended the Sugar Bowl in 1956 with Dad, but have never kept up with football so hve no comment about bowl games.
However, that said, I suspect in this age of "everyone gets a trophy" and big money, the culprit is team owners.

Fans support the games because the world news and politics are so grim.

Dick Klade said...

Right on, Dianne. Sports do provide fans some relief from the important negative stuff going on in the world. And I agree that the bad things happening in sports are due to excessive greed--by owners in pro sports and by athletic directors and coaches in college sports.

PiedType said...

Instead of rekindling interest in college football, how 'bout we rekindle interest in college education? Not football, not a place for SJWs to march, protest, and disrupt, but a place for young people to further their educations and their chance to be successful in their adult lives.

Dick Klade said...

Like that line of thinking, Pied. As far as the football part of the situation goes, it is somewhat useful in building desirable school spirit, but it is heading exactly in the wrong direction. I would like to see a retreat across the nation to the original idea of student-athletes participating in conferences like the Ivy League where good schools such as Harvard and Yale maintain the tradition without all the bogus expenses and over-emphasis on winning and drawing big crowds. I realize that is a dream unlikely to be fulfilled.

Jhawk23 said...

Yes - the proliferation of bowl games has made all of them meaningless. Soon the only schools that don't make it to one bowl or another will be those that have no team! And yes, the culprit is money. Taking a cue from, if not being actively encouraged by, the NFL, college football is now all about the profits. I've been predicting for a decade now that the NFL is cooking its own goose (hasn't happened yet but I do note that overall attendance is dropping). Can universities be far behind?