The Super Bowl just ended, the NFL draft is months away, nothing happens in the NFL until the combine, and college ball doesn’t start until next fall. There is nothing going on in the world of football right at this moment. That’s cool, if you’re a fan, because it gives you some time to get over the disappointments of last season, like, say, defensive backs forgetting how to track a football in the air, or, even worse, your football team being the Cleveland Browns.
It’s a freaking disaster, however, if you have a 24-hours sports network or you run a sports website that needs all the sweet, sweet page views that football brings. Yeah, sure, the NBA is going strong and I’ve heard some rumors of a sport called “hockey” that apparently has games every now and then and is apparently having one of it’s infrequent seasons right now. But neither of those sports drive traffic like football does. Even the scandals going on right now don’t really move the needle. Dr. Phil kind of ended the Manti Te’o thing, everyone’s over baseball players taking drugs, and the FIFA game fixing thing fizzled out because nobody gives a damn about soccer.
So what’s left?
You invent an event. Maybe not invent, per se, but you take something relatively unimportant and make it an event. It doesn’t matter whether or not said event is deserving of the full attention of the entire sports media complex, all that matters is that it’s a Wednesday in February and there’s ads to sell. Thus came the evolution of National Signing Day from a minor event into a national spectacle. Don’t believe me that it’s a bit silly to obsess over the event? Here are the top recruits of the last five years:
2012 – Mario Edwards
2011 – Jadeveon Clowney
2010 – Ronald Powell
2009 – Matt Barkley
2008 – Da’Quan Bowers
There are some good players on the list for sure, but nobody (except Clowney) who’s likely to be an NFL star. Barkley’s probably going to be drafted in the first round, sure, but I’d be scared if my team took him.
It’s not anyone’s fault that the rankings of players coming out of high school don’t match up with NFL success. It’s just impossible to predict how 17 year old kids are going to play football as grown men. Which is the whole reason that National Signing Day is a completely silly exercise.
All day long Robert Nkemdiche headlined the front page of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports, and every other sports website on the planet. I hope the kid has a long and successful career, but, seriously, he put on a hat. A hat. And he signed a letter saying he intends to go to Mississippi. I mean, I guess it’s noteworthy that anyone would choose to go to school in Mississippi, but that wasn’t a line of thought that any of the articles in question went down.
People bitch about reality TV being about nothing, but the events of National Signing Day were even less than the nothing that happens on Ghost Hunters. But at least the guys on Ghost Hunters get paid. Robert Nkemdiche and all the other kids who appeared on national broadcasts, local broadcasts, webcasts, and news articles made everybody a ton of money without seeing a dime. No big deal, that’s just what happens with college athletes. They do all the work and get none of the reward, which sucks, even if the work is just putting on a stupid hat. It’s a proletariats dream.
But me, well, it makes me wish an organizations that treats their employees well like Walmart, sweatshops, pirate ships, the Death Star, or the North Korean Army could take over college athletics. At least dudes in the North Korean Army get wicked sweet pictures of Kim Jong-un, which is more than you’re legally entitled to get for putting your health on the line playing college football.
And what’s really messed up is that in all the nonsense about who is going to what school where, the media under-reported the only story of the day that mattered. If this keeps up, Dr. Phil might want to just start blocking out one day a week for college football players…