Tony Gerdeman started things off wondering why the narrative against Ohio State’s strength of schedule had started so early, particularly when that wasn’t the case for other schools in the past. Hell, ESPN created the “Let Boise State Play!” narrative to counter the BCS “bad guys”, and now they seem to be denigrating a team on an 18 game winning streak.
Gerd points out something that Ramzy Nasrallah highlights as well- the Buckeyes are damned if they do and damned if they don’t- Beating Wisconsin/Northwestern soundly makes the conference look bad, winning close games makes Ohio State look bad. Nice of our old friend confirmation bias to show up before the holiday season.
Ramzy goes on to point out that paying attention to things outside of Ohio State’s ability to control is pointless, and that fans should enjoy every moment as they follow their team. What people outside of the program think is not only beyond your ability to adapt, it also shouldn’t matter.
Commentary-The Clowney Question, Bro
This week’s “scandal du jour”- Should Jadeveon Clowney have played last week against Kentucky, or was he being “soft”? We discussed this on Monday- For an amazing athlete with incredible potential, he has a reputation for taking plays off and only going half speed. In a season where he’s had a number of health issues, including possibly being sick/out of shape for the opener, there are questions about his “heart” and how this will translate to the next level.
On the other hand, though, the current “labor laws” mean that Clowney has to play this season in Columbia before being allowed to profit from his actions and likeness… in spite of the fact that the University is free to do that in the meantime. Given this, I totally understand the sentiment that, if he’s more interested in “job prep” than a Bachelor’s Degree, he shouldn’t touch the field until he has guaranteed security to do so.
As fans, we want players who love the school and want to represent the colors/mascots/legacy/state in the same way that we do… we even get frustrated when our favorite professionals leave their franchises and head to greener pastures. We like, as Chuck Klosterman calls it, “cheering for the jerseys”.
But we need to also understand that these young adults are also preparing for their careers- in the classroom or on the field. They need to put forth their best efforts and enjoy the present while keeping the future in mind. That’s the purpose of college, right?
We discussed this in the breakroom here at tBBC today as we were talking about Ken’s Midseason Grades ; is the “future” in the back of Braxton’s mind, and perhaps keeping him from running with the aggression that we saw in his first two years. We didn’t come to a conclusion, but I can tell you that, in my opinion, it’d be a mistake for him not to think long term.
Commentary- Thinking, Long Term
I especially think that college players should take the money and run (as sad as that makes me as a fan) the same way that “regular” students do- if an engineering major has the opportunity to obtain the job of their dreams before “graduation”, why shouldn’t they? In fact, given what we know about the health issues that surround college football players, it makes me feel even more strongly that moving toward their dream career is an important step to take.
Although, with what we heard on Tuesday night, that career may not be around much longer.
In case you missed it, PBS’ Frontline aired their investigation into brain trauma related to football participation, particularly the research into former players from the National Football League. As I watched it, the only thing I found more troubling about the research/results was the League’s continual efforts to deny and defuse, seemingly in order to protect the franchises rather than the players upon whom those franchises depend.
Sounds somewhat familiar.
If you haven’t seen it… please PLEASE go watch it. It’s two hours, but moves quickly and is certainly better than Dancing With The Stars (Sorry, Gary). If you don’t have TPS reports that are tabulating or a kid’s soccer game to ignore, Awful Announcing has identified nine important “take aways” and meaningful moments from the series. Shorter, and it might spur you to watch the whole report.
What does this mean for football? Well, in the short term, nothing- the NFL has
bought off settled it’s first series of lawsuits, and effectively sealing all of the data from their research to this point. In addition, California has joined with the league by signing legislation that will limit claims made against franchises in their state, a move that many see as being a “win” for the League, but a loss for the NFL’s overall public image. Another attempt to cover and deny… by a state that’s got three franchises and is looking for one or two more.
As someone who loves football (obviously), who coached football, and who played football this continues to create in me a number of mixed emotions. I’ve had (that I can remember- Ha!) between 8-10 “bell-rung” moments, four of which were diagnosed as concussions (the others weren’t diagnosed at all). And that’s on top of the fact that, as a lineman I made helmet to helmet contact on nearly ever play during every “full go” practice and game for my eleven year experience. So, on a personal level this research worries me… and may help explain some things to the other members of tBBC who get to work with me.
But I also love what football is- the gracefulness and beauty of athletic achievement, the strategy involved on gameday, the lessons of teamwork and perseverance and resilience. I love the fact that there’s a place in football for every body- kids that can’t play soccer or baseball or basketball can find a role to play on the diversity of a football team.
So, as a fan, I find myself resonating with the author of this article in Grantland, who concludes by saying,
I love football, and I hate talking about concussions, but everything we know about football makes it impossible to choose between the two without being just as reprehensible as an NFL doctor.
Which brings me, as always, to the question that keeps haunting me- “How does ‘big time’ college football resonate with the University’s academic mission?”. If we believe, as the evidence seems to imply, that football actually damages the brains that education is supposed to be developing, that question gets even more challenging to answer in a positive way.
Or, if answered positively, at least needs to acknowledge some of the jagged edges that come with the good publicity and revenue creation that football can bring to a campus community.
One final thought that I just don’t know what to do with- my wife and I were talking about the Frontline piece and if we’d ever let any of our kids play football. Since we have two girls, my hope for an NFL longsnapper are out the window (still trying for a sousaphone player), but I’m not sure I’d encourage my nephews to follow in the cleat-steps of their dad and I.
‘If kids don’t want to play football, it’ll just die off then, right?’ my wife asked. I thought, and then realized that the current system is set up to counteract this issue: we offer educational opportunities to young adults who may be risking their health for our entertainment. And, as is often discussed, this may be the only option that some of these young adults believe that they have in order to get that education- the trade off is worth it in their minds.
But does that make it right?
Around The NCAA
Yeah… I’m not sure that anyone wants to ever be that guy, but you’ve got to love his passion-