College Football and the Student Athlete

Duck football pre game activities at Autzen Stadium

Duck football pre game activities at Autzen Stadium

This weekend marks the beginning of the college football season. The NFL starts their season next week after four preseason games designed to help them get their rosters whittled down to the maximum of 53.  I never cared too much about professional football. I have never attended a game at a stadium, and other than the Superbowl, I am not sure I have ever watched a whole game from start to finish on television. College Football is another matter altogether. I have been a fan of the college game since my years as a student athletic trainer at Fresno State and the University of Oregon.

Working in the training room and on the sidelines, the players’ passion for the game is clearly evident. Being offered a scholarship to a major college program at 17 or 18 years old can be a heady experience for a young man. Clearly there are those who believe it is just another step in their destiny of making a living playing the game that they love. Others are happy just to have the opportunity to continue playing on a bigger stage. And there are the true student athletes who have used their athletic skills to pay for their college education. The reasons may overlap, but the common thread is a sense of hope that anything is possible not only in football but in their lives and careers. College football isn’t their end game , rather it is a significant part of the journey. In spite of all the hype and money (especially from TV contracts) that has been flowing into the college game in recent years, I can still see the joy and passion these young men have for the game.

I believe that college football is at a crossroads, much as the Olympics were a number of years ago. There is a movement to allow college athletes to receive monetary compensation in addition to their scholarships. The rationale being that the schools are making money from their skills and so the students should be able to share in that. Outside of a few elite programs, most schools do not make a net profit from fielding a football team.  I am not against a reasonable stipend that would give the players some spending money for incidentals. However a full-ride scholarship can be worth more than $200,000 and a college degree can increase lifetime earning capability by a million dollars or more.  I think we need to get away from creating a developmental league for professional football at the expense of a college education and keep the emphasis on the student in student athlete.

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2 thoughts on “College Football and the Student Athlete

    • Not sure if I want to see corporate influence so early in their careers. I would rather see the NFL provide some unrestricted financial assistance to the college programs.

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