Not to be caught up in the mania of the season, the Boston Globe took the time to write an editorial suggesting UMass drop football. It notes that the new NCAA rules allowing the five most powerful college football conferences in the country to pay its players makes it almost impossible for schools like UMass which is not a member of such a conference to field a competitive team.
The Globe is right. Its solution is wrong. I read recently of a better solution. UMass should play a spring schedule competing among teams dedicated to providing top notch football without paid players.
Ted Connolly advocates this in his compelling presentation. He spells out 8 reasons why a “non-big 5 spring league makes sense.” I hate the term no-brainer but thinking through his presentation that best describes his proposal.
One reason I like his proposal is the lull that comes after the football season ends. I know baseball begins but that really doesn’t seem to do much for me during the springtime.
Here’s what an article in January said about American sports.
“In 2014, 35 percent of fans call the NFL their favorite sport, followed by Major League Baseball (14 percent), college football (11 percent), auto racing (7 percent), the NBA (6 percent), the NHL (5 percent) and college basketball (3 percent).
In 1985, the first year the poll was taken, the NFL bested MLB by just one percentage point (24 to 23 percent), but since then interest in baseball has fallen while the NFL has experienced a huge rise in popularity.”
You didn’t need the Harris Poll to tell you this. You knew it in your gut that interest in baseball is declining. 46% of fans call football their favorite sport compared to 14% for baseball. That leaves a huge base of fans pining for something in the spring. College spring football will fill the gap.
There’s also a compelling argument to changing the season and using students who have gone to school to be educated as players. It is becoming clear that in the major colleges the people playing the sports are the equivalent to MLB’s minor leagues where the players are employed by the teams.
The regional director of the National Labor Relation’s Board made a decision earlier this year which “was premised on a flat-out rejection of the notion that big-time college sports are amateur pursuits by ‘student-athletes’ who are students first, and athletes a distant second,” He wrote that the football players at Northwestern were employees of the university and entitled to vote on whether to be unionized.
Just like the baseball players in the minor league are employees, so are these students at a major university. They are hired hands; hired not to get an education but to play ball. That again is something we knew looking at the graduation rates of some of these schools. So isn’t it time to stop the pretense and recognize these big time football colleges are nothing more than minor league teams for the NFL with the exception they don’t cost the NFL anything to run.
Think of it, spring is the time to really be at a sports event. March, April and May are the perfect months for being outdoors. An eight or nine game season with playoffs could easily be fit into that time schedule. The game would be exciting with evenly matched teams. We’d be seeing the game as it was meant to be played with college kids who are in school to be educated rather than groomed.
It would be a nice cleansing of the sport. It could be run at an affordable cost to the colleges and university with no need for multi-million dollar coaching contracts and training arenas. It would give me something to look forward to in spring. Who knows, even Holy Cross might take up football again.