Category Archives: Other College

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ESPN’s Surprise-Returns Video Speaks for Itself This Veterans Day

In Defense of the Bandwagoner

Let's not be so hostile to those trying to climb aboard.

Let’s not be so hostile to those trying to climb aboard. (Photo via Gridiron Goddess)

Any good sports fan can spot one, even if they were a mile away, wearing an eye mask, five sheets to the wind, and having just finished a game of dizzy bat (though none of that sounds like a good idea in any sort of way). Bandwagon fans stand out like a black eye. But why all of the hate?

In just the last 24 hours I’ve seen such harsh things written on the Twitters and Facebook about fair-weather fans—namely those in Boston (after the Red Sox clinched their 3rd World Series in the last decade) and the Philly (the upstart 76ers knocked off the Miami Heat last night). True, die-hard, loyal fans went above and beyond their “call of duty” to put down anyone who showed any amount of excitement about either team winning, and who they were absolutely positive was not a “real fan” of either team.

For anyone who partook in those shenanigans, I hope you’re reading, and listen closely: Stop it. Ripping on bandwagon fans makes you look like a jackass. Just let those “fake fans” enjoy whatever moment it is they want to revel in, and look the other way. They’re not hurting you. They’re not hurting your team. They should have little to no impact on your daily life as a fan, and how invested you are in your team. If anything, you should be proud and excited that other people—especially those born and raised in the same town as you—want to support and throw some passion behind the same thing you do (that sounded dirty, but I’m alright with it, and you catch my drift).

A few things to consider about bandwagon fans, that maybe could change how maliciously you act towards them.

1. Just because they don’t post social media updates after every inning, or bucket, or goal, or huge hit, doesn’t mean they’re not as big of a fan as you.

Lots and lots and lots of people use social media in lots and lots and lots of different ways. Some go way overboard with the things they post or how frequently the share things (I’m usually guilty of this), and others will make an update once in a blue moon. The Red Sox winning the World Series might’ve given people in the latter group cause to come out of the wood works and share in the moment of celebration. A huge win over the defending NBA champs might’ve given people in Philly a reason to get excited for a hot minute about the Sixers. I haven’t said much about the Flyers on Facebook, Twitter, or this blog during the first few weeks of the season—frankly because there hasn’t been much of anything nice to say—but that doesn’t make me a fair-weather Flyers fan. Every time I get a text from ESPN about a blown lead and eventually a loss, it still hurts. It hurts because I’m a fan. Bottom line: Don’t judge someone’s level of fandom by their social media engagement.

2. Yes, there absolutely are different levels of fandom, and as long as a bandwagoner isn’t a “bad fan” then I have no problem with them.

Every team in every city throughout the globe has a wide range of fans. You’ve got your die-hards who literally live and slowly die with their teams and show up to 90-100% of the games (home and away), and can recite the team’s entire roster down to the 7th bench player’s height, weight, wing span, where he went to school, what he majored in, and what his shooting percentage is in the 4th quarter with his team down by 1 with less than 10 seconds left on the clock. (These are mostly your beat reporters, retired old men, and the unemployed.) Then there’s your passionate fans who stay in tune with a team and follow them throughout the season, occasionally go to games and can hold a conversation. Casual fans (where most “bandwagoners” probably legitimately fall) know who the all stars are, they understand the game for the most part, and know how to have a good time if and when you take them to a game—but they don’t pretend to know everything about everyone like you, you die-hard Yankees-addict. Then we all know what a true bandwagoner is—the guy (or gal) who goes out and buys the championship t-shirt, their first piece of team apparel, and wears it for the next week. But hey, that’s more money to the organization, and as long as they aren’t showing up to games and causing a scene (like intentionally vomiting on people, or kicking girls in the face) who cares what they do? Embrace those folks, catch them up to speed, and convert them to die-hards.

We all had to become fans at some point. Sure they’re late to the party, but why are you going to try and shun them away and prevent them from having a good time? I’m a fan of that cliche, ‘The more the merrier.’ A packed Citizens Bank Park filled with 45,000 bandwagoners is a much better atmosphere than barely 10,000 unhappy, pissed off, grumpy ass die-hards. Invite those people into the “in” crowd and celebrate the fact that your team has a whole host of new fans.

3. Can bandwagoners be annoying? Sure. You know, deep down, that you were there through thick and thin, but crying about it only makes you seem like a douche.

Not much more I can say beyond that. Just know that whenever you complain about fair-weather fans, you’re just making yourself look like a fool. If you know in your heart that you are a real fan, that’s great for you. There’s no need to act all tough behind a keyboard (no, the irony is not lost on me here). You just sound all whiny and childish. “This was my team first! I love them more than you, and there’s no way you’ll ever be as big a fan as me! I have a different jersey I can put on for each day of the month. And they’re all authentic replicas that I spent my last seven paychecks on. How many jerseys do you have, (and t-shirt jerseys count for negative one)? Huh? HUH!?!? How many losses did you agonize through? How many dates with real girls did you pass up on so you could make it to each game of that big weekend series against the Mets? How many times have you sat in the 700 Level with the real fans? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Go back to being a fake fan, you fake fan, you.”

You with me?

I get that people are going to get passionate and want to act all macho about big of a fan they are, and they want to prove to themselves and others that they are, by far, the biggest fan in the world, but who are you really benefiting? Your ego? Maybe, but that’s all. People are going to be their own kind of fan at their own pace that they’re comfortable with, and everyone else should learn to respect that.

At the very least, learn to ignore those who you think are fair-weather in nature, and refrain from making yourself look ridiculous.

[Steps down from soapbox.]

Government Shutdown: Please, God, Not the Kids!

Sports are holy ground for many. But that doesn’t make them immune from the unholy, dysfunctional mess that is the U.S. Government.

When Congress failed to act and pass a budget continuing resolution to keep the government running, Washington was forced to shut its doors. National parks, monuments, museums, the whole kit and kaboodle. And for those who thought sports would be a place where they could turn their attention to forget about the giant steaming pile of feces on top of the Hill, well, think again.

The Defense Department announced on Tuesday that it has suspended travel for the intercollegiate athletic competitions (i.e. college sports programs) at the nation’s service academies (i.e. Army, Navy, and Air Force) for the duration of the government shutdown—however long that may last, no one really knows.

While the gravity of cancelling a few sporting events pales in comparison to the some 800,000 federal workers who are being furloughed, the message that this sends to the student-athletes is not so different. (I’m not going to turn this into a political blog, so I’ll let you determine that message for yourself.)

With the college football season in full swing, this obviously has an immediate impact on several games that were scheduled months ago. The first is the Navy-Air Force game that was scheduled for this weekend in Annapolis, Maryland. The game was to be the first of the season that goes toward the academies’ quest for the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, and was sold out well in advance.

A statement on Navy’s athletics site reads: “The Naval Academy will cancel contests as appropriate and notification on Saturday’s football game against Air Force will be made public prior to 12 noon on Thursday. Tonight’s soccer game against Howard has been cancelled. It is not known at this time if the game will be made up or not.”

Also impacted is the Army-Boston College game scheduled for this weekend. No decision has been made there either, and in a statement to ESPN, BC athletic director Brad Bates said the schools are exploring every possible avenue to avoid a cancellation. “We have been in close communication with Army athletics officials regarding the potential impact of the government shutdown on this Saturday’s football game. Obviously our intention is to exhaust all possibilities to play the game and we will communicate the information promptly as soon as we have resolution.”

Also, according to ESPN, the Air Force Academy said it would try to play all of its home games,  but that it was working with the Mountain West Conference officials and other schools to reschedule games that were away from the school. Meanwhile, the Defense Department has said that no games will be played while the government is shut down.

A complete and total disgrace.

Guess How Much Your Alma Mater Owes Its Athletes?

While doing some research for a real-job article, I came across this doozy of a study by the National College Players Association and the Drexel University Sports Management Department that shows the NCAA is using the “amateurism” guise to deny roughly $6 billion per year that athletes in a fair-market system would be earning.

The study, released in March, used 2011-12 revenue figures and the NBA’s and NFL’s collective bargaining agreement terms to unveil just how much each of the 120+ schools in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision would owe each of their star athletes. The figures are staggering.

If these two college sports operated under the same revenue sharing agreements as their pro counterparts—NFL players get a 46.5 percent cut of total revenue, NBA it’s 50-50—than what players are currently being compensated with (full rides) wouldn’t even come close to covering the total cost.

Take for example the University of Louisville, the reigning NCAA Men’s D-I Basketball champions, and the school whose football team currently employs a Heisman trophy front runner in Teddy Bridgewater (screenshot via a pretty nifty infographic put together by Time):

Louisville athletes pay

The Cardinal are one of the more egregious violators when it comes to “robbing from its athletes,” especially in the case of basketball. According to records, the school’s basketball team helped to generate nearly $42.5 million in revenue. If that were to be split 50-50 and then divided amongst the team’s 13 players, each would be owed about $1.63 million. Then, when you take into account the value of the full scholarship for that year, that drags the total down to $1.61 million. Incredible.

I put together some incoherent babble on this issue over the weekend, but the figures from this study really ought to open some eyes. I’m not saying that college players should be making a couple hundred thousand each for playing, but if that’s really how much the school owes and would be able to pay each athlete based on the revenue figures, then who’s to say that money couldn’t be divided up among the other sports on campus to at least make sure these athletes have enough money to keep their fridges stocked?

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Pay to Play: College Athletes and Money

The tide is coming. Whether you’re in favor of it or not (I’m on the fence about it), the pressure is mounting for some sort of change to be made regarding college players getting paid.

Revelations about players accepting cash or other “impermissible benefits” are coming out at a faster clip, and the incredibly large stigma that came along with getting caught by the NCAA for committing such a crime has been reduced to the program or individual being stuck in the sports news cycle for a day or two and then returning to business as usual—unless your name is Johnny Manziel.

Pundits can’t seem to come to an agreement on what the model for paying college-level athletes would look like, but nearly all of them are in accord that the players who turn athletics into a multi-million dollar marketing tool deserve some sort of cut—be it from the money generated through mega television contracts or the sale of gear on the NCAA fan shop

Coverage in the media of this issue has exploded of late thanks to Manziel’s well-documented summer, which included getting thrown out of fraternity parties and allegedly accepting cash for signing hundreds (maybe thousands) of pieces of Texas A&M paraphernalia. But that coverage has been less about how terrible it is that Manziel might have taken cash (no evidence was ever uncovered) and more about how it’s a travesty that players are the main cog in the money-making wheel but don’t see a dime of it.

A face was put on the issue this week when former Tennessee star and current Houston Texans running back Arian Foster sat down with Sports Illustrated and admitted to taking cash during his senior season. The reason for doing so? Basic survival, Foster said.

I don’t have the perfect answer for what paying college athletes looks like, and I’m not sure that anyone does. It’s a complicated matter—if schools decide to pay athletes on the revenue producing sports (what exactly that means can vary from school to school), what kind of message does that send, or impact does that have on the other sports at a particular school; what about the female athletes and how does Title IX come into effect; what does a union of college athletes look like, because they’re going to need one to collectively bargain their rights and all… you catch my drift—but there has to be a simple place to start with all this.

Well, what if the NCAA just stopped caring if student-athletes accepted cash in exchange for autographs, or if a few kids get free tattoos, or if, like with Foster, an insanely-paid head coach provided some of his guys a free meal?

I get the argument that a lot of these kids are getting free rides at some of the top institutions throughout the country, but half (if not more) of them are working towards BS majors while they spend 80-90 percent of their time at practices or on the road for games or out promoting the school and working for “free.” So what if the kids who excel at what they do are able to reap some of the rewards. They don’t have time in their day to hold a job on top of the classes their supposed to be at and the practices and games they have to attend, which, as in Foster’s case, means they don’t have the time to earn money to be able to put food in their fridges. As a former D-I college-athlete, I’ve experienced what it’s like to have multiple practices a day, having to wake up early, go to class, sprint to practice, find time for school work, and get a couple of hours of shut eye, only to wake up and have to do it all over again—and that’s just what it was like for a college wrestler at a school that eventually dropped the program. I never had time to do anything else but go to class, wrestle, and sleep. Forget holding a job during all of that.

Might allowing those extra benefits to be legal breed resentment in some locker rooms throughout the country? Possibly. But it could also make the other athletes work to improve so they can earn some extra incentives themselves.

A recent Time article gets to the crux of the problem fairly well:

According to one study, a season’s worth of Texas A&M home games delivers $86 million in sales to Brazos County, where College Station sits.  The people who deliver the actual product everyone is all excited about — the players — deserve the right to earn more. An athletic scholarship, no doubt, is sweet. But College Station on Saturday resembled any insane NFL game, rock concert or NASCAR event in size and scope. It’s a commercialized carnival. In a fairer world, the college entertainers — just like the NFL players, the rock stars, and the NASCAR drivers — get a fairer cut.

Again, no matter what your feelings are on the matter, something is going to have to give. Too much money is circulating around college sports and the players aren’t being given their fair shake.