It’s the time of year where some of college football player’s top players announce that they will forego the bowl game to begin preparing for the NFL draft, the idea is to avoid major injury in the game. I think it’s great. I truly respect what these players decide and if they decide not to play, they gave their heart and souls to the school for so long that they need to do what’s in their best interests, especially because they aren’t paid to play college. They need to protect their bodies.
But here’s my question – these players sit out bowl games because they are “meaningless”, but aren’t so many other games meaningless? Perfect example would be this past Saturday. While everyone was focused on conference championship games, there were a couple of games played due to rescheduling because of the hurricane earlier this year. NC State beat ECU in a game that was never close (58-3). In that game WR Kelvin Harmon, caught 6 passes for 67 yards and a TD. On Monday, Harmon announced his decision to skip the bowl. But what’s the difference between the bowl and the ECU game? ECU game was for 9 wins. No real rivalry, no high stakes, certainly no national audience, like the bowl would provide. In another game, South Carolina beat Akron 28-3. WR Deebo Samuel caught 2 TD passes. What’s the difference between playing Akron in front of 20,000 fans in the rain and playing in a bowl game?
What about week 1, when most teams play FCS teams. What’s the difference in a star player putting their body on the line in a game a team is most likely to win with or without them?
Once a team is out of playoff contention or conference championship contention, don’t all games become “meaningless”?
Again, I’m not advocating for players to play in the bowl. It’s their right to do what they please, and I think it’s the right decision personally. But I’m questioning where the line is. How do we define meaningless games? Why sit out the bowl game but play a meaningless 12th game in front of no fans and no tv audience, with no incentives, no conference titles, no rivalries. Just a blah game. Samuel, Harmon or anyone is equally likely to get hurt in game 12 than they are in game 13.
As much as I’d rather watch guys like this play as many games as possible, it’s an interesting thing to think about why there is so much emphasis on skipping bowl games when players are equally as likely to get injured playing meaningless games throughout the season.