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Bowl Games Without Meaning


Outside the four teams in the playoffs for the BCS championship, bowl games have become meaningless.

Top players commonly drop out of all the other bowl games to "prepare for the NFL."   Predicting Bowl games has become simple - which team key players have opted to not show for the game?  If one team has a lot more no-shows, the team that shows up wins.  Yesterday Oklahoma crushed a Florida team that had around 8 starters not show for the game.

All three UNC All Americans (two running backs who each gained over 1,400 yards and their star receiver and linebacker) have opted not to play.  UNC will get slaughtered.

I understand the earning potential, and that NFL stands for "Not For Long."  But the teammates who put in just as much time and sweat as the stars are just collateral damage.  For many of them, the bowl game is a reward for a successful season as a team.  And it turns into a forlorn hope mission without key players. 

I have not watched a bowl game this season after watching a ton of regular season games.  Why? - The Bowl Teams bear little relation to the teams that played earlier in the season due to the best players not showing up.

FarAway Sooner:
I agree.  I've watched a lot of the Bowl Games, because it's interesting to see how teams that emerge from the culling process of NFL opt-outs perform under duress.  I understand why guys opt out, and I don't know enough about individual circumstances to judge any one of them.  But it is disappointing to me.

I still think college football has the best regular season of any US sport.  At the risk of turning this into a "College Football Playoffs: For or Against" debate, I worry that the rise of the CFP has devalued the post-season, except for those 3 games.

I guess, in my heart of hearts, I want to have my cake and eat it too.  I want a world where college football is an amateur sport, played by unpaid guys and gals who do it out of love of the game, and in the interests of getting a free college education.  But I also want a game with the most amazing plays, made by the best players and coached by the best coaches, on both sides. 

Enough people are willing to pay for that so that the game is amateur in name only.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised that so many players are treating their collegiate bowl games more like a professional investment choice than anything else.

I'd also add that one has the ability to be much pickier about which college bowl games you watch when you're in the habit of watching your own team play for All the Cheese!  The rest of us can be reasonably content with the table scraps we get.

I don't think my own Sooners earned a right into the CFP this year courtesy of their two ugly losses, but I sure would have liked to face a good Florida team in the Cotton Bowl rather than the leftovers we ended up thrashing.  Nor did I care for the Florida coach's "Well, it wasn't really our Varsity squad that played tonight" excuses after the game.

I'm not sure how to fix it.  Or if a fix is even possible.

My wife and I talk about how to fix the only 2 college money making sports (football & men's basketball) regularly.

There is a pretty simple fix - just do what we are doing with baseball.  There are development leagues for players.  If you can make big money - sign a contract right out of high school and never play in college.  Everyone else can play college ball if they want to.

If we could just get rid of metal bats (the "ping" of the bat is annoying and hurts pitching development), it would be close to perfect.

Right now, basketball and football run the development leagues for the pros - and the players don't have the opportunity to get paid market value.  Worst of both worlds.

FarAway Sooner:
Honestly, I'd be just fine chasing all the money out of college sports.  I support the theory of athletic scholarships, but I think the practice has gotten so far away from that that it's almost lost relevance.  As you suggest, it's now just functioning like a bizarrely short-circuited labor market.

There are A TON of student athletes who never make it on TV, who don't play a revenue sport, and who never receive a penny of scholarship money, who get just as much out of PLAYING the game as their more famous peers.  If the sport became more about the players and the coaches, and less about the fans, I don't see that being a bad thing.

The only thing worse than the professional sports leagues running the development system is having kids' parents run the system.  That's what we have in American youth soccer today, where a reliance on for-profit markets has led to all sorts of really weird distortions in player recruitment and development, from a very young age.

The European football clubs make enough money that they can invest a ton back into searching for and developing the best talent.  It makes for a surprisingly meritocratic system, although you'll never get away from team politics so long as human beings are involved!   ;D

By contrast, the underfunded US development system relies on wealthy suburban parents to sustain their player development programs.  That just creates all sorts of weird distortions that aren't good for the soccer development or well being of the top-flight athletes, to say nothing of the millions of kids along the way who are weeded out of the system sooner.

My understanding is that AAU basketball operates in a very similar fashion in the US, which further complicates things for the young athletes trying to earn their market value.  Nothing like getting a bunch of middle men in the way to take their own cut of the rent!    :tickedoff:


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