Sunday, September 6, 2009

College football has returned in all its raging glory

Like most men my age, I have an avid interest in sports. Of course, I follow certain sports more closely than others, and that is why this time of year is so enjoyable for me.

This is because I am a huge football fan. I enjoy all types of football, but college football is my favorite.

I know professional football is the king bee when it comes to this sport, but college football has a flavor to it that is impossible to beat.

In many ways, I am an old school kind of guy. I think this is part of the reason why the college brand is so appealing. On campuses around the country, traditions have been born and adhered to for decades, and this is something not often found in our quick changing society.

I know that a person can say that about professional and high school football as well, and I won't disagree with that. However, college football is different.

For example, even though the NFL dates back to the 1920s, the cutthroat business approach that the league employs sometimes leaves a bad taste in my mouth. When a circumstance stands in the way of the mission of a team, it is often eliminated with ruthless efficiency.

When a person cannot physically perform to the level that is needed, a team dumps a player for the good of the organization and fans. Additionally, the long-term health complications many NFL players receive for careers that only last a few years is something that is not talked about as much as it should.

We should remember that the next time we are watching a Tennessee Titans game and see a player sprawled out on the ground because of a brutal hit.

While these issues are applicable to college football as well, I don't think we see it to the degree that we see it in professional sports. The players are younger, and they are in a situation where they can better themselves by pursing a college degree.

Professional football seems like the end of a journey for many players that leave them with no place to go. College football allows us to watch the transformation of teenagers into young men.

I know I am probably over analyzing this topic. The bottom line is that college football is fun to watch. It has pageantry and rivalries that cannot be touched.

When the Tennessee Volunteers play at Florida in a couple of weeks, it won't just be two schools knocking heads. It will be one school representing the goodness of college athletics playing against an evil empire that appears untouchable.

We don't see rivalries like that in professional sports.

Of course, this weekend is the first weekend in which there is a full schedule of games. In recent years, Labor Day weekend has been the unofficial kickoff of the season with games scheduled on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

The popularity of the sport has caused the NFL to back off somewhat and move the start of its schedule back to mid-September. When something can make the powerful NFL adjust its schedule, it must be conceded that it is really popular.

So, sports fans, sit back and enjoy the next four months or so. Expect to hear debates and arguments about whether college football should have a playoff. Expect to hear ESPN's regional bias as it shamelessly promotes the Big 10 conference as the nation’s best.

Above all, expect to be entertained. Good entertainment is tough to come by these days.

A person must take advantage of it while he can.

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