The Complicated Glory of College Bowl Season

Hey, guys,

Hampton, I am all for the holiday spirit, and I won't boycott the games this year—especially the good ones. But that doesn't mean that nobody should. Earlier this year, in this company's magazine, Taylor Branch dropped a rather embedded anecdote into his wonderful feature story, "The Shame of College Sports." He referenced an NCAA basketball tournament in which a team threatened "a wildcat student strike" if they made it to the national championship game.

The team must have never advanced, however, because we've never seen anything like it in a major, Division I playoff game in either football or basketball. I think you're right, Hampton, that no one will notice if Ebeneezer Hruby (apologies, Patrick!) skips out on the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and that unfortunately, refusing to watch a game doesn't pack much of a punch. Whether we like it or not, we're rather passive observers in this system. Even though their first game was a total dud, I'll watch LSU-Alabama on Jan. 9 because of the hype and the spectacle, and I'll enjoy the passion and the joy that Hampton referenced so optimistically.

But the players are a different story. Viewers may not have the real power here, and because the NCAA and its universities' athletic programs are so dependent on BCS profits and ratings, we can't hope from anything from the institutions that run the games. The players, though, could get more out of the deal than a swag bag if they took the chance. I know that Baylor's Robert Griffin III plays football with both passion and joy, but I'd love to see what might happen to the very flawed NCAA and the very flawed BCS if he refused to.

–Emma

Presented by

Sports Roundtable

Patrick Hruby, Jake Simpson, and Hampton Stevens 

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