I don’t get college sports. I don’t like they’re as interesting as pro sports, and I don’t understand the fanaticism.
College sports is hard to follow. Let’s pick basketball as an example. Whereas the NBA has 25 or 30 teams, there are literally thousands of college teams. Thousands. And the turnover is huge. You only see a given player for 4 years, and if they’re any good, they will try and jump to the pros early. The players that are worth following are only the team for one or two years. So how can you follow a team? How can you be a casual fan? You probably don’t know any of the players, and if you do, you probably don’t know many on the other team. Contrast this to the pros, where most players stay on a team for at least 5 years, and many of the big names will be on the same team their whole career. If you add the front-office career factor, it can be decades. (Consider Larry Bird, Jerry West, Red Aurebach, Phil Jackson, Doug Collins, etc..) I just don’t know how you can follow college sports. I realized only a few years after I graduated that nobody who was part of the program was still there. Of course all the players were long gone, but the coaches, assistants, and athletic director had also departed. Who exactly was I rooting for, where was my connection? (True, the connection in the pros is also tenuous, but the stability of the league makes it much less so.)
And finally, the quality of play just isn’t as good. It’s self-evident that the pros are better players, I’m amazed I even need to argue the point. Sometimes I hear the rebuttal that college sports is more fun to watch because the players aren’t as good. OK, fair point, but why stop at college then? Why not watch high school sports? Junior High? Hey, I spent an hour with my 2-year old today watching him try to dribble, that doesn’t make for entertainment. (For more on this idea, read The Sports Guy’s definitive analysis of why the WNBA sucks.)
Now let’s talk about the fans. Whatever connection I have to my Alma Mater’s team is because, I in fact, went there and spent four years being part of the school. That’s the connection, however weak or strong that is 15 years later. It may not do it for me, but I guess I understand those who were into their college enough to want to keep feeling part of that world forever. At a recent wedding, the final event of the night was the playing of my Alma Mater’s fight song, which was shouted by the entire extended family of the groom, who had several generations go there. I thought it was a little weird to make that the climax of the wedding, but it was nice that their family had something they could share across the generations. If they felt that bond between them, good for them.
But. But, but, but. What about people who didn’t even go there? My next door neighbor is an enormous Auburn fan. (I think it’s Auburn. Maybe it’s Georgia Tech. See how much I care?) And he never went there! He just picked it at random. That’s not right! I mean, what the hell! And he didn’t even pick one of the great teams, if you’re going to just choose to be a fan of a team, at least pick a good one fercrisakes. I have another friend who coincidentally is a huge fan of my own school. Lives and breathes blue and maize (for my one reader who doesn’t know where I went, that’s a clue). And she didn’t go there. Again, what the hell!?