Third down: if the NFL didn’t exist, would college football be so corrupt? And this is where I’ll admit it: My weekends have not been entirely football-free. My daughter is on her high school poms team, so I have a good excuse to catch the Not-Exactly-Friday-Night-Lights atmosphere of the D.C. suburbs. And more importantly, my college alma mater Northwestern, once a doormat, is at last nationally ranked.
When I tell my friends I’m not watching the NFL, they say that college football is far worse, because you can add the slavery of uncompensated players and a corruption of academic mission to the head injuries and performance-enhancing drugs. True. But isn’t the NFL responsible for the dynamics of college football? It’s the league that forces players to go to college, essentially turning big-time college leagues into their farm team system and giving the NCAA a cudgel to keep collegiate athletes in line.
Fourth down: I’m pushing the demand curve in the right direction, just a little. So many of the arguments about the NFL end with a sigh of, “Well, it’s an unstoppable force, so let’s try to fix it rather than end it.” But that feels like surrender. Small actions add up, and you might as well start somewhere. I know my one hybrid car isn’t going to stop global warming, but I’m telling the auto industry that I’m willing to pay extra to help the planet. My refusal to watch the films of Roman Polanski won’t stop him from making films, but as the father of daughters, I’m not going to help him. We can either surrender to a demand curve, or we can try to make a small difference. Let others sue. Let others rant. I’ll just go for a bike ride on a beautiful fall day.