Is college football fun?
It’s a simple question, with potentially complicated answers, that gets lost in the NCAA’s ongoing legal strife.
“Yeah, it is fun,” Iowa linebacker Travis Perry said. “It’s a lot of work, but when you reap the reward on Saturdays, when you get to go out and play in front of 70,000 screaming fans, and play the game you’ve grown up loving, it’s a blast.”
It’s a significant step toward “autonomy,” and a primary reason for the move is the growing gap between revenue generated through football and men’s basketball and the rewards granted to athletes.
What’s fair and equitable will be ironed out in the coming months by men and women wearing suits.
But what do guys in pads think?
“It’s very strenuous,” Maryland defensive back Jeremiah Johnson said. “I won’t deny that. It’s a high demand on your body. It takes a lot, if you want to be known as a good or an elite player.
“Whether in academics or on the field, it’s very hard to balance. But the things you get to experience definitely make it worthwhile.”
Of course, being a star doesn’t make you blind to sacrifices.
“When you run on the field, under the lights on a Saturday night, it’s like nothing else in the world,” said Simon Cvijanovic, an offensive lineman for Illinois. “And I’ll be chasing that feeling for the rest of my life.
“Yeah, game day is fun. What’s not fun is losing. What’s not fun is all the sweat that we put into it. But the camaraderie is fun. Being around those guys who are your age, and making those friendships and traveling the country … That kind of stuff no one else gets to do.”
Nobody denies there’s a need for change in the collegiate sports model. But trashing the entire system also seems unjust.
“Looking back on it, it will be one of the best times of my life, no matter what,” Hawkeye running back Mark Weisman said. “I couldn’t care less about the other stuff, the pay and stuff. I try and shield myself from all that, try not to look at any of that. Because I don’t really care.
“I love playing college football. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Opinions can differ within a locker room. Former Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter is the catalyst to perhaps unionize college athletics.
“I’m on the team that created the whole concept of a union, or whatever, and in no way do I think I’ve been mistreated at Northwestern, whatsoever,” Wildcats linebacker Collin Ellis said. “I am not an advocate for change, in the sense of what was being presented, like pay-for-play. I’m a student-athlete and really enjoy the opportunity I’ve been given.”
For some, the pressure to excel starts early, and the discussion about enjoyment versus economics is ongoing.
“You know what, you’re always having fun when you’re playing,” Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon said. “But I’m actually having more fun in college than I did in high school.
“In high school, I was so focused on trying to get recruited.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football