The Opinionated Spectator… Welcome back, college football

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College football is starting this week and I can’t stop smiling. I am beyond giddy that the season has started again. It’s exciting. It’s fun. It’s predictably unpredictable. And that uncertainty is what makes college football so delectable.  There are so many unanswered questions that need to be resolved with the upcoming season.

Will Florida State be as formidable as they were last year? Will Nick Saban’s Alabama team come back with a vengeance? Will the SEC try to start another streak of dominance after last year’s debacle?  Will Charlie Strong’s Texas team be competitive? Who will be the breakout star of the season? Will the playoff system be enjoyable or will we end up missing the flawed BCS?

But as the college football season starts, I want those of us who love college football to think about this game from a different perspective.

I am going to buck against the status quo and say that I appreciate student-athletes. I know as a society, we don’t hear much positivity regarding college football players. The headlines that grab us are generally about off the field character issues or problems with fellow teammates or coaches. But I’m going to resolve to start this season off right by saying thank you.

Thank you college football athletes for playing the game that I love with such passion.

Thank you parents and guardians for supporting your children at all cost and giving them the emotional support that they so desperately need.

We, as fans, are brutal on our college football players. We scream. We ridicule. We love them. We hate them. But let’s just pause before the season starts to remember that they are someone’s son. They are someone’s brother. They are someone’s grandson. They can be someone’s father. They are not professional athletes. They are student-athletes.

Student-athletes have to practice, lift, eat certain diets, learn the playbook, fight for their spots on the depth chart, all while maintaining their coursework, managing their personal lives, and living away from family. Then, in addition to those responsibilities and others, many student-athletes must deal with the stigma that comes with being a football player.

It’s not all glamorous. We have seen how these student-athletes can struggle with financial problems and lack of basic necessities.

Also, let’s try to keep in mind that the college football athletes are people who are growing up in front of the world. These college football players are kids that are still in college. So, yeah they are going to occasionally make some boneheaded decisions.

Don’t you remember college? Some of our best college stories revolve around boneheaded decisions we made that we may or may not admit to now.  You know what you and your friends did! So, I’ll reserve my judgment on their character till they have already grown up.

And while college football fans are busy swearing and calling players out of their names because they may have dropped the ball against the rival team, gotten a penalty, or missed an interception.  Take a step back and remember that college football players are playing a game for our enjoyment.

At certain levels, they may be getting free tuition, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to drag the player’s name down through Facebook, twitter or any other form of social media and print media. The players can read your nonsense. Their families can read your venomous foolishness. And nobody likes to be the object of ridicule.

Hey, its college football season and we are allowed to be passionate fans. But let’s think about the individual people wearing the pads while we root for the team wearing our school colors.

Alexis Sara Cobb may be reached at:  alexiscobb@ascexec.com or (724) 561-8082  Follow her on Twitter: @alexissara

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