Buzz Bissinger has declared that college football be banned. Now, that is a radical viewpoint and I feel confident in saying it will NEVER happen. But I thought it would be interesting to think about this: what if college football were banned?
If you don't know who Buzz Bissinger is, he wrote the book Friday Night Lights: A Town, A Team, A Dream. A movie was made about the book which was pretty good, and an even better TV show (which I highly recommend watching all the way through) was loosely based off the movie. In the article that I linked above, he suggest that colleges should lose the distraction of football to focus on its true purpose: academics. He goes into a few other topics, but that is the crux of his argument.
Obviously, I vehemently disagree with this suggestion. The very fact that I blog on this site almost every day probably tells you that my #1 hobby is Mississippi State sports, mainly MSU football and SEC football. If it were taken away I don't know what I would do. But just for a minute, let's think about the consequences of Bissinger's suggestion - to ban college football.
First off, I will say there are very few schools outside the Ivy League that are known for academics. Georgetown, Stanford (although I could say basketball and John Elway/Andrew Luck for those) and a few others might make the list, but most people associate a particular school with either their football or basketball prowess (and when Bissinger says he wants to ban college football, I have to assume he wants to ban college basketball as well). Without those, what is the difference between Milsaps and Mississippi State? Mississippi College or Ole Miss? Delta State or Southern Miss? There isn't. If it weren't for the football team, you wouldn't care about going to MSU over any of the other schools. You'd just choose them based off academic reputation and geography.
The fact is, football brings people together in the name of a particular school. Some donors only put money towards athletics, but there are also those who donate to academics. I have a hard time believing a former chemistry student who has made $100 million would be willing to donate money to construct a new Chemistry building if it weren't for football. Without football and other sports, where does the school pride come from? You never went to football games as a Chemistry student and cheered the Bulldogs on to beat Ole Miss....so you didn't have a bond with other MSU students in the name of MSU - and a desire for your school to be better than Ole Miss....in everything.
Even for the students that don't care about football, they are still sucked into the spirit of things because of football. Students, alumni and fans come to campus on fall Saturdays wearing maroon. Then they wear maroon all week with the Mississippi State logo...that is a result of sports. Then the non-football fan goes to the bookstore and buys a shirt for him/herself so they can join in with everyone else wearing MSU gear. It's a family...we all love Mississippi State. And when we graduate, we continue to love Mississippi State. But it wouldn't be that way if not for football.
College football creates many jobs: athletic administrators, coaches, trainers, referees, stadium employees, beat writers, broadcasters, TV crews & all that entails, ticket sales, media relations, people who make and sell shirts & trinkets, restaurants in town, hotels in town, tailgating tent makers, RV dealerships, the people who rent the moon-bounce thing, porter jane and john folks, and the list goes on. (As a capitalist you have to love this aspect of college football, from listening to Bissinger on the radio today - he is 100% socialist).
I really have to question whether or not students would have better grades if there were no college football. I know there are many more parties on weekends that include a home football game, but aren't students going to party anyway? Is football really that big of a distraction on Tuesday afternoon?
Are football players themselves being hurt because they aren't focusing on academics like they should? Yeah, a lot of these guys probably take easy majors because the game is so demanding - it's a year-round commitment...but I have to think it is providing a great opportunity for many who would not have been able to afford it otherwise. Even if the player could have come to school there without a scholarship, football allows them a chance to leave campus debt-free. Football was their job for 4 years (plus high school preparation) just like the guy/girl who waited tables to work their way through school.
I could probably make this into a 5,000 word essay, but neither you nor I want to be involved in that, so I'll just leave it here. I'm sure y'all can think of many additional reasons college football should not be banned, and please feel free to leave them in the comments....we love hearing from you. In the words of the late Paul Harvey, good day.