Have you ever wondered why college sports are so popular in the US but nowhere else? The reason is college sports provide something that US pro sports lack but pro sports in other countries have.
Pro sports has no soul
MLB, the NBA and the NFL are leagues with franchises instead of clubs. Franchises that are privately owned for profit. That up and move cities when they can make more money somewhere else. Where players come and go between franchises mid-season and there are no incentives for playing local athletes.
As a result these are franchises without souls or loyalty who exist only to make money for the owner, lack roots in their local community and do little for society as a whole. Because of this some of their own local fans do not feel as passionate about them.
Enter college sports. The local college/university has been in the city for generations and it’s not going to move interstate. It’s not privately owned and run for profit, its run to help the community and society as a whole.
The college/university is tied into the local community in many ways, everyone in the city either went there or knows people who went there and so it represents them and their community and actually cares about them. Many of the players are locally grown and boy oh boy do the fans feel passion and loyalty towards their college teams.
Why only in the US?
The rest of the world does not need the college alternative because our pro sports do not lack the community roots, representation and soul that US pro sports lack. In the rare case that they do lack it, such as the English Premier League, local fans can turn to quality 2nd division or state league teams to provide it, for English Premier League fans it’s the Football Championship.
This brings us to another reason the US needs college sports. US pro sports don’t have good 2nd division or state leagues. In Australia and Europe these leagues give athletes out of high school a level to grow, learn, and mature in before they are ready for the pro leagues. I the US this role is filled by college sports.
If you wonder why US pro sports don’t have good 2nd division and state leagues we go into that and offer solutions to the problems with US pro sports in the empty soul of US sports and how to fix it.
Authentic and unique
The amateur nature and 170 years of tradition of college sports has given rise to charming idiosyncrasies like unique and endearing game day traditions, stadiums and mascots.
Here are some examples of the type of oddities that have no place in the US pro sports sphere of business efficiency, slick marketing departments and stadiums made for corporate boxes.
Stanford University’s mascot is a tree named Cardinal…
Boise State University football team play on smurf turf; the field is coloured entirely blue with orange and so are the player’s uniforms. There could be any number of players on the field at any time!
Clemson University players touch a rock on a pedestal for good luck as they run onto the field. It used to be the coaches doorstop. He did not die making it a special memento or anything, he just started talking about his doorstop and getting players to touch it…
If Ohio State University players beat University of Michigan in the 120 year old rivalry the players are awarded a small trinket of gold pants inscribed with their initials and the score. This is because in 1934 someone asked the Ohio coach how his team would fare against the hot favourites Michigan; he answered
“They put their pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else”.
And Ohio State went on to a famous underdog victory.
College gameday experience
The game day experience of attending college sports is superior to the pro equivalent. Games are held on college campuses which tend to be nice places with the stadium surrounded by open parks and gardens rather than a concrete car park as is the case in the pros.
There is a tradition of tailgate parties before and after the game which is a combined picnic, barbeque and beer garden for both teams’ fans to enjoy.
If you’re imagining red necks drinking Bud Light famous tailgate locations include The Grove at Ole Miss (University of Mississippi), a grass covered grove surrounded by oak, elm and magnolia trees that every game day Saturday sees gentlemen in top hats enjoying gourmet hors d’oeuvre, seafood and BBQ served with fine kitchen ware, chandeliers and silver plated candelabras.
A more raucous variation can be found around Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where a colony lasting more than 24 hours springs up featuring Cajun and calypso food, conga lines and other festivities. All this and the tickets are generally cheaper than the pro sports games.
Bright eyed amateurs
College athletes are admired in a different way because they have not yet been corrupted by money. They don’t showboat as much and are more humble so ordinary people relate to them more as hard working strugglers trying to make it rather than the spoilt millionaires of the pro leagues.
The amateur nature of the players makes the sports less predictable. Smaller body’s mean speed is more often a factor then strength and the defences are not as well drilled which makes for high scoring and free flowing games.
The inevitable player turnover means it’s about the team not any individual. The team has a historic identity and sporting philosophy that will endure regardless of an individual star player who can only last a few years.
Deeper loyalty and rivalries
Loyalty with the fans is multidirectional and generational. Further evidence of the greater loyalty in college sports is that coaches and key non playing personnel stay in their jobs a lot longer than in pro sports.
College sports has been around for longer than the pro leagues so there are older and deeper rivalries. Rivalries are also more localized due to many colleges being in smaller cities that don’t have pro sports franchises.
Baseball is the exception for a reason
Further evidence of my point is that most of the the differences in favour of college sports over pro sports that I identified apply less to MLB than they do to the NBA and the NFL. In MLB the teams and rivalries are as old as those in college sports and the unique and quirky stadiums and traditions still exist. As a result pro baseball still feels more human and less corporate.
Furthermore MLB has a minor league which is as close as any US pro sports league gets to a good 2nd division or state league. So it has followed that baseball is the least popular of the major sports at the college level. College baseball is not as necessary because pro baseball still supplies a lot of what is good about sports unlike the NBA and the NFL.
Betting on College Sports
The best place to bet on college sports are Sportsbet (review) and Cloudbet (review) because they cover all the NCAA games and have more live in-play betting than anyone. To see who has the best odds check the odds comparisons.
Have fun betting and GO LUMBERJACKS!