Amidst all the excitement related to the NFL playoff races coming down to the wire in the final week of the season, a prominent national sports radio talk show mentioned this sobering thought earlier in the week: at this point, there is a better than 50/50 chance that some or all of the 2011 NFL season may be lost due to impending labor unrest.
Here we go again.
I know that may seem like a long way off to most people, but many NFL experts presently believe that the 2011 season may be in real jeopardy. The issues that must be resolved are very complex. It will come down to how much of the revenue pie should be distributed to the players vs. the owners.
In fact, before the owners and players can even negotiate a deal, the owners must agree amongst themselves on the key issues.
It has been widely reported that there is a huge gulf in the thinking between the NFL’s large and small market owners. The owner of a team like the Buffalo Bills or Jacksonville Jaguars looks at things very differently than the Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants.
Say what you want to about the quirky way that college football crowns its “champion”, it is headlines like the impending NFL labor unrest that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that college football is miles better than the NFL.
Most college football players play because they love the game, not because they see the big payday down the road.
In most cases, you can see a college football game on television in the home market, even if maybe a few hundred seats in the stadium weren’t sold—although most of the traditional college football powers routinely put over 100,000 people in the stands, even against an unattractive out of conference opponent.
The student sections, cheerleaders, mascots, and school bands all make for a unique and exciting game day atmosphere. Plus, you can tailgate and party harder on Saturdays than Sundays because you have that extra day to recover before getting back to school or work!
There is no disputing that the NFL is the biggest, baddest professional sports league on the planet. But, in comparison to the college game, in many ways the NFL’s product on the field seems sterile and void of excitement.
Sure, college football is still big business and there are many controversies surrounding the college game (i.e., the BCS, recruiting, fund raising, academics, etc.). But thankfully, we don’t need to worry about greed wiping away entire college football seasons, as could be the case shortly in the NFL.
Only World War I and II have had any noticeable impact on the college football season over the last 125 plus years. Conversely, there were two work stoppages in the NFL in the 1980s alone.
Every single college game played from late August until early December could potentially mean the difference between a team winning a national title (or conference championship) and their season being considered a complete and utter failure (at least for the elite programs in the country).
Florida’s loss to Alabama in the SEC title game was absolutely devastating because it cost the Gators a chance at their ultimate goal of the National Title. And look what it did to Coach Urban Meyer!
Compare the Gator’s loss to the situation that the Indianapolis Colts faced this week against the New York Jets. The Colts were having a historic season and had already clinched everything there is to play for, so they took their foot off the gas and decided to rest their starters, including all-world quarterback Peyton Manning, in the second half.
A rag tag group of New York Jets that is a bubble playoff team at best was able to take advantage and hand Indy their first loss of the year. Did the best team win? We’ll never know.
One thing is for sure though, in the college game, the better team would have won because the game would have meant everything and therefore, all starters would have played the entire game.
The popularity of college football is at an all-time high—including attendance and television ratings. It seems that everyone wants to get a piece of this great American institution.
I would expect that as the NFL owners and players continue to bicker and the gloom and doom headlines of possible NFL Armageddon in 2011 begin to surface, the college game will only grow in popularity.
I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to the point where the college game is the only game in town, but if I had to choose between the two, there is no doubt that my vote goes to the college game.