Before I go couch-potato myself in front of super-sized young men beating each other up gracefully, I wanted to share some of the many links I've collected this year about the "sport." (And no, none of them are about pedophilia hiding in the showers of prestigious institutions -- that's a "sick men meet self-satisfied institutions" problem, not a football problem.)
Historian Taylor Branch started the season off truthfully with "The Shame of College Sports" in The Atlantic. His charges against the system are explosive:
My emphasis. Read it all.
And yes, the system has a racial component that is obvious on every TV screen. Watching the other day, a friend commented "there are a lot more old white guy coaches in the colleges than in the pros, right?" I don't have the figures, but it sure looks that way. Professional teams have to at least interview Black coaches and sometimes hire them; colleges look to be led most often by professional "good old boys."
At the end of the season, in the New York Times, business columnist Joe Nocera tried to envision how college football could be organized more equitably.
That's right: college football players need an institutional voice of their own as well as (probably) legislation that limits the exploitation that institutions of "higher learning" may engage in.
I consider myself knowledgeable about the game and its structures, but until this year I'd suppressed consciousness of the central fact college athletes' lives: "scholarships" are granted in one-year increments. A dissatisfied coach can throw a kid out of college at any time, if, in the coach's opinion, he slacks off on training, or doesn't develop as expected, or even gets too absorbed in scholastics. Athletic scholarships are given to win prestige and money for the institutions, not to help athletes prepare for life. The system is more than a little disgusting.