This Parents’ Decision About College Football
Who is a Football Mamma? When did I become one?
Perhaps, it was the realization that my child stood a better chance of getting a sport scholarship than an academic loan. That is definitely a cultural shift from my time, where academics were the tickets to college. Today, its sports. Like everything else, rules to exploit high school students and their parents are the norm; putting them at the mercy of coaches and online businesses meant to exploit their fears and dreams. Now, that we are aware of the long-term health risks, I question the benefits, particularly, when the number of players who go on to become pro or NFL players is so few. Why would I now knowingly let my child play football (given it is responsible for most sports-related injuries) if the risk of injury is so much higher than the benefits?
A recent experience made me think even further about this. While my son is old enough to make his own decisions, I am now not in full support of this football track because the risks are too high, and the benefits, minimal.
I think it is ridiculous that some colleges charge over $200 for a basketball game. Are the players reimbursed for their work? They deserve it! If they get injured later, suffer from medical sequelae, shouldn’t they be reimbursed? A full scholarship is not enough considering the millions and billions of dollars made off these athletes and the high risk of permanent disability!
However, the NCAA’s idea of protecting the athletes appears to be to “sock it to parents” using the paternal rhetoric of protecting the innocent young players. Seems to me the NCAA succeeded in removing players and families from the growing money pie, creating greater portions for themselves and others in the business. Call me jaded but this is ubiquitous and reality!
Recently, I had the displeasure of witnessing one of NCAA football rules: parents have to pay for lunch at recruiting events such as Junior Day. I paid $20 for my son and I to attend such an event; the money was for lunch (later about that). It occurred to me: if the college paid all expenses, only those players of interest would be invited, reducing the number from 50-60 invited players to 10-15. In other words, the rest of us paid for our fill-in background roles.
I can only say the meal was horrible – thoughts of diarrhea could not be suppressed, and the salad was tasteless. For $10, I had three cookies and water—not even a cup of coffee to keep my eyes and mind open to the rhetoric and propaganda fed parents and students in the main room while backdoor offers of admission and scholarships were made. Afraid I would start to snore, I left the main room to witness families and players scurrying off to private rooms with various head coaches. I also overheard the congratulations and saw the happy smiles emerging from those private rooms.
I probably irked some people with my observations and honesty (a missing quality in these circles and others). My son was mad at me. Football, like any other large industry with the power to squash the weak (me), wants compliance and team players, not questions. I hope I didn’t harm my son.
I often wonder, “What is a team player?” In the world of sports, I guess it’s someone who shuts up and does what he’s told.
Weighing the risks versus the benefits, I think my son should shuck football for the books, but this is his decision—and his Failure to Listen to Mom! (LOL)