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Banning College Football? Precursor Of Things To Come

by John on 05/09/2012

There was a big debate last night.  Should college football be banned?   Here’s the NY Times piece and a link to the actual debate.

Two prominent writers debated the idea of banning college football on Tuesday night at New York University’s Skirball Center against two journalists, who also happened to be former players. Buzz Bissinger (the author of the high school football book “Friday Night Lights”) and Malcolm Gladwell (the best-selling author and New Yorker staff writer who compared football to dogfighting) want to get rid of football on campus. Tim Green (a former N.F.L. defensive end) and Jason Whitlock (a Fox Sports correspondent who played football in college) want it to stay.

Bissinger and Gladwell won in a romp.

Attendees voted before the debate.  After the debate, more sided with banning college football.

A piece by Bissinger in the Wall Street Journal makes a great case here.

Here’s the Informed Not Inflamed take on what might be a big change on the social landscape of America:

Don’t rely on a debate in New York City.  New Yorkers haven’t seen good college football in half a century.  Have you seen Columbia play football recently?  (Half kidding here.)

Don’t expect an institution and a form of entertainment that keeps millions occupied for 12 consecutive Saturdays will be wiped from our culture.  What would we do on New Year’s Day?  (Half serious here.)  But college football is a way of life in places like Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, and Baton Rouge.

Young football players will have no place to play and chase the dream of the NFL.  A minor league system would not have the financial backing or the interest.  And unlike college basketball or baseball players, football players can’t jump to pro ball right out of high school.

However, the arguments against college football will change the game and the educational institutions.

Look at the economics.  People can’t afford those tuitions at major universities.  Furthermore, they can’t afford those tuitions that don’t lead to real and good-paying jobs.  Instead, many students will attend trade schools and community colleges for specific skills in the new economy – and not attend big name universities.  The new education model is already in the works.

A good friend is a proud alumnus of Boston College.  None of his three kids will go there: it’s too expensive; and he wants them to go to schools that will lead directly to jobs and working internships — for a lot less.

Next, universities are, in essence, using the players as slave labor.  College presidents could make the argument that players are getting a free education in return.  The real problem: many of the players are not getting real educations.

Bottom line economically: the money might not be there to support these football programs; and taxpayers might revolt. 

Now look at the medical problems.

Too many major injuries are debilitating young players.  It’s the same problem in the NFL.  There needs to be new rules prohibiting what I call projectile tackling where a defense player launches himself as a missile at a ball carrier.

Here’s a sign if things are changing.  Watch the media.

Right now, the media – newspapers, local TV stations, and major networks – are beholden to the NCAA and college football for their content and profits.  If you start seeing stories investigating the high cost of college football programs and the coaches’ salaries, then the public has moved in a different direction and it is no longer profitable for the media.

Will college football be banned?  No.  But it will look different in the years ahead.

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