All right, everyone, sorry for the hiatus in my column, we have been extremely busy here working to improve the site, but we are back this week to look through this week's news. We'll be looking at the growing corporate reach into college football's spring season and where that can lead the sport, the growing trend of players leaving the States to play professional basketball in other countries, and President Obama's further push for a college football playoff system.
Commercialized college: corporate sponsors in spring
Every year brings more and more encroachment of corporate sponsors on the amateur-based college football scene. This is just another line in the sand for the sport with corporate sponsors now taking over the spring games to add to their postseason holdings. With sponsorships happening in new places every year, it brings up the issue of players not getting a "cut" of the profits being made from their play. Now I'm going to throw this out there right in the beginning that I am not one of those people that think college football players should be paid for playing. I wholeheartedly believe that their scholarships and the closets of free apparel they get is pay enough, not to mention the chance to play in front of thousands of people. I just hope that we never see a time when college players are paid with salaries or stipends or any other form of compensation other than an education and hordes of free stuff, but it seems that every year that seems more and more likely.
High school junior chooses pro basketball in Europe
Yet another marquee player is leaving the country to fetch a lucrative contract with a foreign basketball team while his eligibility for the NBA Draft vests. This is a growing trend in the sport, and in my opinion, the NBA and the NCAA are to blame. The NBA's restrictions that players must be 19 yrs old and they must be one year removed from their graduating class if they played high school in the United States are the reason that this trend of leaving the country is growing. It seems that it should be the player's decision how he wants to run his career and when he wants to declare professional eligibility and enter the Draft, not the governing associations.
Personally, I like the mindset and draft eligibility rules of MLB and NCAA baseball above all other sports. In baseball, the rules say that a player can enter the Draft out of high school, but if they decide not to play professionally, they must wait until after their junior year of school or until they turn 21 years old. I think this is a great rule system because it gives the best of both worlds to all of the parties. The player has the choice of when he wants to go pro, the colleges know that if a player commits to their program he will be there for three years (unlike college basketball where many players are doing their one year and leaving), and the professional teams are getting more polished, college players.
I just don’t think it’s fair to dictate when a player can turn pro and force him to attend college. As a nation, we don’t force every student to attend college so why do we have that say over athletes? If a player is talented enough and a team wants to gamble and invest in a young player, who is the NBA, or anyone else, to stop them? The NBA and the NCAA are creating a bigger problem with their rules in that players are either staying their one year and leaving (making a mockery of the educational system, avoiding any cohesion a coach is trying to create, and virtually wasting money spent on recruiting) or they’re leaving the country all together and the NCAA isn’t getting any piece of the player. So college basketball should copy and paste the college baseball rules and they will see a much better result from their players.
Obama praises Tebow, Gators; repeats desire for playoff
Once again President Obama is pushing for a playoff in college football and I think the NCAA and the Bowl Committee should listen. There really is no reason to continue with the current system and countless individuals have presented extremely viable and logical reasons why college football should have a playoff. Some suggest an eight team playoff while others suggest a Plus One format, where the two best teams after the bowls would play to determine a national champion. Naturally there will be flaws and teams will be slighted with any solution, but it should be the one with the least amount of casualties that prevails.
However, the power to change the current system lies in the hands of the people with the most to lose - the conferences and the individual bowl committees. These powers feel that a playoff will diminish the tradition and respect these bowls have created over the years. Powerful sponsorships and conference contracts are keeping a new system from being implemented. But I would think that alarmingly increasing criticism and mockery of the current system will eventually diminish the popularity, as each year the ranking system and the games themselves become stamped with a huge “FARCE” across their names. Teams and fans don’t recognize national champions due to the fact that the national champion usually doesn’t play any of the other conference champions and subsequent BCS Bowl champs. Everyone is left to assume that the national champion would have beaten every other team in the country, but we all know what assume means.
Now since it’s a money thing, the integrity of the post-season is severely compromised and many deserving teams have no opportunity to participate in the game. There will be a new lucrative, money-making opportunity that will come from a new playoff system, just like there was when the BCS was introduced. Maybe now the three or four weeks in-between the end of the regular season and the bowl season won’t go without any college football. Instead of a Capital One Bowl Week, maybe now we can have a Capital One Postseason Month; it seems to work for college basketball.
As always this column is for you, so any comments, questions, or concerns send them my way at firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy this week's games.