Let’s talk sport.
Specifically let’s talk about a game that’s dying before our eyes. College football.
Football is dying because of its cost. You need over 100 players, 10 coaches, training facilities. It’s impossible, except for the small number of teams that can fill huge stadiums and get on TV every week.
As with so many things today, there’s a simple solution to the problem. It starts by admitting that colleges don’t compete with professionals. The job of a college isn’t to build NFL rosters. It’s not to be a free minor league.
It’s not the job of a college to train anyone for an athletic career. Most sports recognize this. The best soccer players leave the academic environment in high school. The best basketball players are also being directed, increasingly, toward professional training.
Three substitutes per play. No more.
This means two-platoon players. It requires offensive linemen to also play defense, and vice versa. It requires receivers to learn coverage skills. Specialization should diminish except (perhaps) for quarterbacks and kickers.
This makes football more aerobic. It means players get smaller, and so do rosters. I think it will reduce the severity of injuries, by forcing players to conserve energy. It also cuts costs. It changes tactics. A few schools won’t be able to hoard all the best players. This means more schools can compete.
I don’t expect Alabama or Clemson to go for this. Start with Division III, then Division II, then the lower leagues in Division I. Maybe the big conferences break away from the NCAA entirely. Let them. But don’t let them these schools call what they’re doing college football when they do so. Let them pay their athletes. Make them what they are, semi-pro.
This is a huge change, but it’s just a reversal or what was done 60 years ago, when two-platoon football came into style, as the NFL became more popular. There is no reason for colleges to compete with professionals. Let the pros find talent however they wish. College should be about education, and about open competition among athletes who also go to class.
If the athletic tail no longer wags the collegiate dog, everyone will benefit.