I’ve hesitated about penning a response (okay, not penning, exactly, but you know what I mean) to this Darrell Huckaby piece because I know it’s a well-intentioned cri de coeur. But I have to admit the first thought that crossed my mind after reading this…
But college football is not so much fun for me anymore. The players seem to care more about the name on the back of the jersey than the school they represent. Too few of them seem to appreciate the opportunity they have been given. The twin gods, television and the almighty dollar, dictate everything that happens, from scheduling to starting time. It takes four hours to play a game that should be over in two. It costs more money to follow a team for a season than my father ever made in any three-year period of his life. Attending a game is an all-day commitment, sometimes a two- or three-day commitment.
… was, what took you so long?
Where we’re at in the here and now has been a long time in coming and the process only seems to be accelerating. Conference realignment, monster television deals that result in conferences giving up more of their independence to Mickey, a postseason that grows and grows – we’ve been bitching about all that crap for years here.
The reality, as I’ve suggested before, is that there is a certain romance fans have always had about the sport. Huckaby is no exception to that. The cynical bastards who run college athletics count on it, even as the Steve Pattersons of the world work on nonsensical rebranding, not as a means to enhancing fan loyalty, but as an end of squeezing every last drop out of our wallets. Because that’s what really matters these days.
And people like Huckaby give them a pass. Sure, he’s disillusioned, but notice that he can’t even bring himself to blame the suits. He goes straight from the selfish players who “care more about the name on the back of the jersey” to television and money without bothering to mention the middlemen who have made it all possible.
Michael Adams never broke his leg playing in Sanford Stadium. Greg Sankey isn’t currently in rehab at the Shepherd Center (something, if you want to get shitty about it, that might not have happened if Gales’ school wasn’t busy chasing a paycheck to play in Athens). They’re just part of the group of people who’ve done what they could to make our present day dissatisfaction possible. The front of the jersey matters to them largely to the extent they can monetize it.
They treat college sports like a business, or at least their vision of a business. Any perception otherwise on our part is bound to end in disappointment. If it already hasn’t.