College football is a true cultural phenomenon in America, and many consider it to be the best sport we have. The pageantry, great crowds, and stadiums cannot equaled by anything else in America.
And, for more or less the entire history of the National Football League, it’s basically served as a de-facto minor league for the NFL. It works great for the NFL.
They don’t have to scout eighteen-year-old players and decide how they will be as 25-year-old football players. They don’t have to absorb the cost to develop them before they’re ready to really contribute as NFL players, and the players come in as established brands when they get drafted by NFL teams after three years following their high school graduation.
But, the college game sees some of the adverse side effects of those benefits to the NFL. Players are often more focused on their NFL prospects than their college teams. And, now, after the Alston Ruling in the summer of 2022, colleges have to allow players to make money on their name, image, and likeness . That’s changed college sports, in my opinion for the good, but maybe not in the minds of many universities. But, according to Pro Football Talk, the powers that be in college football may want an NFL-run minor league.
It stems from an op-ed Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick and university president Father John Jenkins wrote to the New York Times this week.
Here’s an excerpt from the Pro Football Talk article.
The latest effort to close Pandora’s box comes from Notre Dame University. In a New York Times op-ed co-written by Father John I. Jenkins and Jack Swarbrick, the president and A.D., the Fighting Irish wage battle against the practical consequences of American capitalism intersecting with what is, in essence, an effort to socialize the revenue that football players generate.
They freely admit it.
“At Notre Dame, revenue from football and men’s basketball goes to support 24 other varsity sports, including, most important, women’s sports — most of which did not exist on college campuses before 1972,” Jenkins and Swarbrick write.
So, basically, the skills, abilities, and sacrifices of the young men who play football and basketball are subsidizing sports that can’t generate enough money to justify their existence. How is that even remotely fair to the football and basketball players?
That’s why they want to restrict NIL payments. By pointing that cash from the players and back to the players, it helps preserve a football/basketball windfall that can be redirected to other aspects of the school’s budget.
Along the way, Jenkins and Swarbrick have a specific request for the NFL.
“To ensure that players arrive at college only after making an informed choice — and a real commitment to learning — we urge the [NFL] to establish a minor league alternative for young players,” they write.
I don’t see this happening, and this comes off as whining by Notre Dame to me. But, who knows, I never thought I’d see the day where college football had more or less free transfers, a great thing for the players that put their bodies on the line.