Both Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette have chosen to skip their bowl games in preparation for the NFL combine and draft.
Their basic reasoning is risk/reward analysis: the risk being another Jalen Smith or Marcus Lattimore cautionary tale by getting hurt and losing millions by dropping out of the first round of the draft, where virtually all of the guaranteed money is. The reward: a pat on the back from your pimp…ah I mean coach and athletic director for leading your team to a victory in a game that is all but meaningless to everyone except those who collect the TV revenue, and that ain’t the players.
From some corners we hear the same old tired responses such as, “they signed a contract” or “they are quitting on their teams.”
Let’s address both.
On the contract, it would seem to me that a natural evolution of the student athlete organizing movement would be to challenge just how legally binding are these contracts? After all some are with 17-year old minors. My Judge Mathis law degree says such are not binding. Even if they are, who really thinks that a 17-18-year old fully understands all the parameters of such a commitment? The most compelling response to the contract piece is the fact that highly sought after coaches routinely break their contracts for the cash and greener pastures after having “promised” their recruits in their parents’ living rooms that they will be there for the duration. If the college experience is truly an educational environment and coaches are themselves educators, then both McCaffrey and Fournette have learned well.
As for quitting on their teams, yep, that is exactly what they are doing. No way around that except to say that many of those same teammates that they are quitting on would do the exact same thing if they were in that position. And what position is that? The position of coming to the reality that all college athletes are not created equal. If the 3-year starting left tackle at Ohio State or Alabama can’t see that his value is higher than his teammate who is the 3rd string tight end and occasional special-teams player in his fourth year, he is an idiot.
Finally, what they won’t do is feed you or your family if you suffer a career-ending injury or worst in a meaningless game. Any bowl game short of the playoff means about as much as a professional pre-season game.
The stakes are even higher for a running back, which is the ultimate pro-sport disposable. They last on average of about 3 seasons. They cannot begin to draw their pension until 55 and the annuity at 35. According to a Sports Illustrated report in 2014, nearly 80% of NFL players are broke 3 years into retirement.
Against this backdrop, if Fournette or McCaffrey were your sons, can you honestly say you would advise them otherwise?
They are both making a sound business decision and showing that they have learned the valuable lesson of placing the proper value on their labor.
NCAA big-time college sports is as transparent an example of the American Capitalistic “pimp and ho” system as there is. If these two young men have learned to pimp themselves in their best interest rather than passively allow others to do so in their best interest, I say more power to them and hope and suspect more will follow suit.