This was going to be the year – the year I was planning to turn away from watching so much football. It had been my favorite spectator sport for years, but my interest had begun to wane. Several factors were responsible for my declining interest:
- In spite of a shocking upset of Florida State, Georgia Tech only won three games in 2015.
- After a very successful run as the head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, one of the classiest coach in college football, Mark Richt, was dismissed.
- The salaries being paid to head coaches had grown exorbitant, especially when compared to university presidents. In my mind, college football was becoming too much like big business, or like the NFL.
- The documentary, Last Chance U on Netflix revealed disturbing exploitation of football players at a community college program in Mississippi. If the things that series revealed were going on at a community college, I could only imagine what must be happening at the power schools.
- Alabama won yet another national championship- Ho-hum.
- The movie, Concussion, starring Will Smith, painted a picture of the NFL seemingly disregarding the evidence pointing to the dangerous long-term impact of head trauma with its players. Other documentaries, like Gleason and books like Ben Utecht’s memoir, Counting the Days Until My Mind Slips Away: A Love Letter To My Family, left me hoping my grandchildren would pursue other sports.
And so, I intended to devote many less hours to watching football in 2016 and devote more time to writing or a number of other worthwhile and productive activities. I purchased no tickets for Georgia Tech games. And then, a series of events occurred:
- Georgia Tech won nine football games in 2016, including an exciting comeback win over the Georgia Bulldogs in their rivalry game and a Taxslayer Bowl victory over Kentucky.
- The ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) had the best post-season record of any conference ever, its teams winning 9 games against only three losses.
- In perhaps the most exciting game of the year, Clemson (an ACC school), defeated those bullies, the Alabama Crimson Tide, to win the National Championship.
The Atlanta Falcons are playing in the Super Bowl!!!!!
So fly high, Matty Ice and Julio Jones! (my favorite former Alabama player) Rise up, you Dirty Birds. Take it to those lying, cheating, ball-deflating New England Patriots. The hopes of my championship-starved home state of Georgia rest on your mighty shoulders.
As far as those other issues I raised earlier, I heard this week that concussions are down 11% in the NFL this year. So there’s that!
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