College Football Players Are Not Obligated to Play in Bowl Games

College Football Players Are Not Obligated to Play in Bowl Games

Why do fans expect an “amateur” football player to put his career and livelihood on the line for what amounts to an exhibition game? On Saturday, West Virginia University announced that starting quarterback Will Grier will not be participating in the Camping World Bowl game against Syracuse. His decision not to participate in bowl games to focus on preparation for the NFL Draft did not sit well with some college football fans. He joined the list of more than a dozen players who will skip their teams’ bowl games.

Grier made the following statement informing fans of his decision.

Fans have no right to be upset with unpaid “amateur” athletes for choosing to further their professional careers.  After all is that not what a major part of the college experience is all about, learning to make tactical business decisions to be better professionally.  Grier did just that.  He made a tactical business decision to protect his potential professional career by not subjecting himself to injury in the bowl game.

Furthermore, Grier is slated to be a first or second-round draft pick. Would it really make sense for Grier to jeopardize his NFL draft potential by playing in a bowl game? The answer is simple. No, it would not make sense.

The Minimal Reward is Not Worth the Risk

The risk of injury in bowl games simply is not worth it for a college football player with a high NFL Draft potential. Bowl participants receive what amounts to very little for their participation. Participants receive a bowl gift and bragging rights for a year. Bowl gifts are nice and fun. However, they are minuscule when compared to the salaries and bonuses that coaches receive for bowl participation. This is especially true for a player like Will Grier who has already accomplished the pinnacle of what college sports and “amateurism” is supposed to be about – degree completion.

A degree is extremely valuable and can lead to a better life. Receipt of scholarship money to acquire a degree is very valuable as well.  However, a scholarship often does not equate to a college athlete’s full market value. Why should a player with the potential to finally receive their full fair market value for their athletic prowess risk a potential career ending injury in a game that is not going to compensate him up to his full value? Again, the answer is simple. No athlete should take that risk.  No fan should expect them to.

College Football Players Should not be Vilified for Opting Out of Bowl Games

Suiting up for any game carries a risk of injury. However, dissenting fans argue that it is only one more game, so the players should play. While it may only be one more game, the risk of injury is ever-present. In fact, the risk of injury is so prevalent that Grier is not the only player sitting out of a bowl game this year. In the past, players like Jaylon Smith and Jake Butt have suffered a serious injury which impacted their draft position.  Specifically, Ed Oliver, Rashan Gary, N’Keal Harry, Greedy Williams, and Grier’s teammate Yodny Cajuste are among those that have opted out of their respective bowl games this year to prepare for the NFL.

Some fans are equally upset by these decisions.  They argue that such players are being selfish and are quitting on their teams. However, that is not true. The players who opt out are not doing it to quit on their team. They are doing it to protect their future career prospects so that they may finally receive market value for their talents.  Despite what fans may think, college football players are not obligated to risk a career-ending injury for their viewing pleasure. Accordingly, players who opt out should not be vilified for their decision.

Players are not the Only Ones who Opt Out; Coaches do Too

Players are not the only ones who opt out of bowl games.  Coaches opt out as well.  Every year, several coaches leave their teams to take jobs at other schools in the midst of bowl game preparation.  Coaches are allowed to make business decisions for the betterment of their careers, just as players should be.

Whether people want to acknowledge it or not, college football is a business.  Therefore, all parties involved should be allowed to make decisions that are in the best interest of their careers. This freedom of movement may upset some fans. However, players and coaches should be able to make whatever decision is best for their career.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Play or pay back the cost of their free education, free medical care, free tutoring snd who knows what other perks. If they have visions of playing pro, then they should have not played in college. They should have instead went straight into training for the combine, with for hire trainers, and not risked getting hurt while playing at the collegiate level. After all if they are sitting out because of fear of injury that could jeopardize their chances of being drafted, or lower their standings in the draft, then why play college football at all and risk being injured during your time doing so. The answer to that is obvious, they need the college program in order to showcase themselves.

    1. Avatar

      There is nothing about playing football in college that is free. You work for everything and generate significantly more revenue than perks you get. You are also forgetting that players who get hurt often end up on having to use their parents’ medical insurance. Also, players cannot trade on their own name and generate their own income despite every other student on campus being able to.

      The schools need the players much more than the players need the schools. Football teams fund nearly the entire budget for every athletic department. That turns into donations and merchandise. I’m completely confused why American’s who believe in capitalism condone this indentured servitude that is college athletics.

    2. Avatar

      That sounds crazy as hell…Taking care of their body is more important why risk your nfl career over a non paying bowl game that means nothing at all…I congratulate those who focus on the next level of their life instead of listening to people like you who don’t understand the business of an student athlete..SMH..
      FANBOYS…

  2. Avatar

    Team vs individual. Where do you draw the line as a coach, or can you? I mean obviously a senior with a high draft projection has a lot to lose but if a 5-Star freshman doesn’t? As indicated, one play could end a careeer in a worst case scenario but a severe knee injury could forever change a career trajectory. My point is, what stops the contributing 5-Star freshman from staying on the sidelines at a bowl game? Why is the senior with a projection more important or entitled than the freshman? If he isn’t, then what’s the sense of having Bowl games other than the championship series? If it’s a championship series bowl, the exposure to injury isn’t lessened. As a matter of fact, it is most likely magnified. So isn’t it hypocritical to say, If it’s a lower graded bowl, I’ll stay home but if it’s the championship series, I’m in.” Getting back to the first three words of my post, it becomes a question of what’s more important, team or the individual. Just my opinion, right or wrong, there are always two sides. But as far as saying the ones that buy the tickets, the shirts, the plane tickets, contribute to athletic scholarship funds and show up year after year can’t criticize or express disappointment when their star player opts out of the bowl game, is unfair to fans. In my opinion, the athlete can choose to sit out if he wants but criticism comes with the deal. The large majority of people understand but a relatively small population express their disappointment in the athlete.

  3. Avatar

    “The schools need the players much more than the players need the schools.”

    Wrong

    Let’s assume you take college off the table. No feeding table, no state of the art sports science department, no army of trainers, no critical thinking, no NFL visits to games. More importantly, no education.

    Then, let’s open the whole NFL world up to high school graduates. So NFL gets a kid under a low level contract and creates a “GNFL”. Who advises the family, athlete from sharks that target a family, desperate to improve their financial life? Who protects them from sharks clamoring for a piece of the athlete? Ok, let’s assume they get a great deal, albeit limited. Now, hypothetically injure the athlete 4 years later. Let’s use Pharoah as an example. Severe injury which essentially could have resulted in an amputation. What happens to his dream? More importantly, what happens to his future without a college education?

    1. Avatar

      The relationship is mutually beneficial between college and player. However, these big football universities wouldn’t have half the academic things they have without the players. The problem in the situation is that their compensation is not comenserate with the revenue they generate. Coaches can leave them high and dry but then players are criticized for making business decisions. Wrong

  4. Avatar

    As spouse of a former d1 football athlete,and the mom of a d2 player, I can say that the benefits they received from the university education outweigh the benefits given. My husband sustained a career ending knee injury in college. So I have some standing here. I do not begrudge these players sitting out a bowl game, but they should be required to refund the scholarship money when doing so. When they signed that contract, they made a commitment just as other scholarships come with strings. This too is capitalism!

    1. Avatar

      The D-1 schools make out like bandits. They make significantly more income off the players than they distribute. No other place in America allows that. And the coaches leave all the time for new jobs and leave kids and families they made promises to. so why on earth should a player pay a prorated amount to the school?

Leave a Reply

Close Menu