I follow recruiting. I talk about recruiting. I write about recruiting.
Some days, I even like it. Most days, I do not.
Sure, we all get caught up in the hype of how many stars this kid is worth and how many recruiting national titles that school has, but in the year-round sport of college football, one almost has to pay at least some attention to it.
College football has many flaws: Using non-paid student-athletes to make millions of dollars for a school, a ridiculously outdated rulebook, an arbitrary system of crowning a champion based on dollars instead of having a playoff to determine the best teams in the nation, just to name a few.
In my humble opinion, recruiting has become a major part of that flawed system that is becoming more comparable to the silliness that goes on in Washington, D.C. on a daily basis.
It's quite sickening, really.
For all the bickering and complaining that goes on in Washington between two sides that will never agree, college football recruiting produces the same type of atmosphere of overstimulated minds pulling, prodding, and poking to get whatever they want, whenever they want it.
Making a kid a star while he's playing in front of 5,000 people on a Friday night in Podunkville, Ga. is where it gets sketchy for me.
Fans heaping praise on an 18-year-old while opposing fans curse him on message boards on National Signing Day after he chooses to go to your rival is a tad much.
In recruiting, coaches will stoop to most any legal level to get a prized recruit (just ask Lane Kiffin).
Coaches will lie and tell a kid that he (the coach) is going to be there to see him (the kid) graduate. Then, as soon as the coach gets a better offer, he'll bolt for Los Angeles or South Bend before the kid reaches his sophomore year.
Coaches tell kids that they (the kids) will start right off the bat in college.
Anything that kid wants to hear, the coach is sure to tell them.
In Washington, lobbyists will do anything legal (wink, wink) to get a politician to vote for their specific cause.
The politicians will lie (campaign promises) to their constituents in order to go back to Washington where they will continue to lie for another two to four years, depending upon the office.
What about the kids?
These kids are bragged on by big-time coaches. They are followed all over America by eager reporters awaiting "the scoop" and are rated by multi-million dollar media entities, which make them "stars" seemingly overnight.
Then we have these wonderfully ridiculous high school All-American games where the kids get to show their stuff for a national audience.
Except the only "stuff" that I saw in the few minutes I could actually bear watching was awful attitudes and a bunch of kids who have clearly allowed the attention and love to bypass their atrium and go straight to their cranium.
In Washington, we hear the spin doctors and reporters take something that would ordinarily be meaningless and make it into a three-night special on FoxNews or CNN.
We watch politicians grandstand as long as the cameras are on. We see them gesture and talk a big game in public as if they have a mandate from God Himself to hold the office to which they were elected.
Yet, we still vote. We still care about our political process.
College football is very much the same.
No matter how ridiculous it may seem to treat a bunch of teenagers like they are Brangelina, we still do it.
We'll line the road for miles for just a glimpse of a guy who runs like a gazelle and catches anything thrown to his side of the field. We'll boo him mercilessly when he drops the sure touchdown pass that causes our team to lose. Then he'll go back to his dorm room and study for his sociology test on Monday.
I'm not condemning anyone for being a fan. Quite the contrary—I'm right there with you.
I follow my team to the hilt! I've been in that hallway barely able to contain my excitement at the fact that I just interviewed my team's star player, who is nearly a decade younger than me.
I've stood in that line snapping hundreds of pictures of a kid who is just as worried about his GPA as he is winning a football game.
These things are part of what makes college football great.
Much like in our nation's capital, where democracy still flourishes and the right to vote still gives us a voice.
Maybe it makes us nauseous one minute, but it still makes this nation great.
College football's flawed system lives on. Websites still make a ton of money on it. Writers like me still write about it. Fans like you still read about it.
America's political system is flawed. Does that keep us from enjoying the benefits of being the greatest country in the world? No way!
College football, too, is greatly flawed. Does that mean we should never read or write about our favorite teams, players, and/or prospective players? Not a chance.
Recruiting in today's college football may be more nonsensical than political bickering and partisanship, but both are integral parts of two extremely important American institutions.
And that, my friend, makes the flaws seem so much smaller in the grand scheme of things.
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