FanPost

Why I Agree with Malcolm Gladwell, Despite Loving College Football

My mother texted me this morning, saying that Malcolm Gladwell was on Fareed Zhakaria, and that he was making a lot of sense. I flipped on the TV. The headline was sensationalism, as is every media outlet's way: MALCOLM GLADWELL WANTS TO BAN COLLEGE FOOTBALL. The reason? He says there's a mountain of proof that prolonged play of the sport leads to brain injuries and that a sport that's loaded with proof of brain injury has no place in an institute that stresses the exact opposite.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWaPXzTDEDw

As frightening as he is to look at, I've loved his books, and he's an excellent thinker. He has an extremely valid point. Why exactly are schools that pride themselves on academic achievement still playing football? (I'm talking the Ivy Leaguers: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Penn...) But even then, you have other schools that have never been very good at football: Akron, Kent State, Florida Atlantic, UAB, the directional Michigan teams, etc, and yet they continue to play.

Why did Alabama start playing football? Well, it was just a game to begin with. Like intramurals, and it was just played between whoever we could find to play. Then they wouldn't let us leave campus to play, and it caused an uproar. We weren't good then, but the game had already become popular with the students. By the teens, we were decent, and President Denny recognized the popularity of the sport. If we could become a really good program, we would get publicity, and people would want to come be a part of the instutition. And it worked like a charm! We've become a football school, and we've used the money generated from football to put back into the University in a variety of ways (the argument about current tuition prices? do not get me started on that). Football made our University strong, and that's the only reason we invested in it? The winning, the championships, the tradition? Amazingly wonderful byproduct.

Now, what about Vanderbilt? How many kids go to Vanderbilt because they love the football there? Or Kentucky? Do you love Kentucky for its mediocre football, or do you love it for its amazing basketball team? Does it makes sense for those schools to spend the money they do spend on a sport that's known to cause severe brain injuries? Can you honestly say it does?

I'm certainly not advocating that all colleges stop spending money on football. Far from it. But in the great scheme of things, what could we gain if even 40 of the FBS schools currently playing dropped their programs and put that money somewhere else? In the name of student health.

We've already begun making unprecedented changes to college football anyway. Conference realignments, conference deaths (adios WAC), something of a playoff. I think it's time college football was simplified. And all the while, we do our best to come up with ways to make the sport safer (we owe that to the highschool kids alone).

FanPosts are just that; posts created by the fans. They are in no way indicative of the opinions of SBN and the authors of Roll Bama Roll.

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