Cutting Out Early

Noah Sacco, Sports Editor

At the end of the college football season, a team is placed in a certain game based on its record in the regular season, if its record is at least .500. These games are known as bowl games. The bowl season begins in the middle of December and is brought to a close with the National Championship on Jan. 9.
Bowl season is a magical time for college football fans. It inspires them to believe that their team will end its season on a high note and with a trophy in hand, no matter what the record. Also, a big bowl win could help project a high pick for their favorite college player in the upcoming NFL draft. However, many college football fans’ aspirations were shattered when they heard the news of their star player skipping their team’s bowl game in order to “prepare for the NFL combine and draft.” Though some critics are in favor of this quick transition into the NFL, many other critics are appalled at this decision, as am I.
Although it’s the final game of the season, a bowl game can possess numerous opportunities. As an underclassmen, it’s a chance to solidify a spot as a starter for next year. For seniors and players going to the NFL, it’s the last chance to leave a legacy and go out with a bang. More importantly, it presents the possibility of the team being highly ranked in the polls at the start of next season. As a result, this can boost team recruiting, ticket sales, and media coverage.
Many of the players justify skipping their bowl games due to the “risk of injury”. This raises a valid point. The game of football is so unpredictable, you never know when your career will be cut short. Injuries can not only hinder you physically, but can drop your NFL draft stock as well.
During the Fiesta Bowl in January of 2016. Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith had been projected as a top-five draft pick in the NFL draft. Unfortunately, he slipped to the 34th pick in the second round after a knee injury during the game.
This series of events most likely prompted star running backs like Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey to opt out their college bowl games this year.
Despite the injuries in football, it’s fatuous to skip a whole game because of it. Injuries are part of the game of football and not participating in your final college game is simply insane.
Another rationale players use to skip their bowl game is driven by a “financial-based decision.” This reasoning seems more farfetched than a risk of injury.
College players who claim that it was due to the need of money clearly don’t understand the logistics of professional football. The 4-year minimum-base salaries for players in this year’s draft are over $700,000. If the player was a star in college, then he may be paid north of $1,000,000 his rookie year. Star players who smoothly transitions into professional football will certainly not experience any money problems in the near future.
With a high draft pick and the NFL at their fingertips, I understand the temptation of players sitting out their bowl game. Nevertheless, they owe it to their fans, their teammates, and themselves to finish out the year with a win.