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The Piedmont Highlander

The Piedmont Highlander

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History Won’t Repeat Itself


On every Saturday during the Fall, college football stadiums pack themselves to the brim with students, alumni, and fans all chanting and singing their fight songs. Hundred piece bands play loudly on the field while players sprint through the tunnels, running through smoke machines to meet the tens of thousands of spectators. This ritual is more than a hundred years old, and is under attack because college football has abandoned tradition for money.

Because of TV deal compensation that has influenced conference realignment, college football is becoming too much like a business and straying from its tradition based roots. We must protest the way the sport is being managed if we want to keep history alive and support college athletes.

The SEC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, and the ACC were the 5 major region based conferences in college football. But in 2023 the 108 year-old Pac-12 was dissolved because 10 of the 12 schools chose to chase more lucrative football TV deals in other conferences, according to an article written by the LA Times.

This flight has jeopardized the geographic significance of each conference. Cal and Stanford, now members of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), have no business being in a league across the country from where they are located. And the same goes for UCLA, USC, Washington, and Oregon, who have joined the Big 10, the conference of the midwest. These schools are moving to conferences they have no history in, abandoning the tradition-based games that the sport is built on.

Schools like UCLA and Cal have played each other 94 times over the last 90 years, according to Sports Illustrated. But next year they won’t play each other, marking the first year the two schools will not play since 1933, according to UCLA athletics.

Games like Cal vs. UCLA is what makes the sport of College football so special. I love the fact that each time they play there is anticipation. The near century of history behind each of these games make them so important because of how sacred they are to each institution. The entirety of each school wants to add another win into the lengthy history books. But conference realignment has destroyed this.

“These schools should play each other every year because there is history there. Cal has been bad, UCLA has been good and vice versa, but regardless, the Bears should play the Bruins,” senior Evan Dickason said.

Now, UCLA has replaced this game with teams like Iowa, who they haven’t played since 1986. Also, while these realignment decisions were based on the profitability of football media deals, all 24 sports the Pac-12 used to support have to move conferences with their schools, affecting thousands of student athletes nationwide.

Now, all Big 10, Big 12, and ACC student athletes will cross the country multiple times a year. This will impact other sports more than football, which only competes and travels for one game a week, according to an article written by Forbes.

Because of this added travel, student-athletes will be forced to become more like athletes as they spend even more time outside of the classroom.

“Even though football brings in the most money, it’s important to remember that this impacts more than just one sport,” junior Genevieve Hiller said.

I believe that this is the most blatant demonstration of greed in realignment because rather than considering the needs of all of their students, these schools chose to focus on maximizing the money they could make from a single sport. This was a business decision, not a sports or school decision.

“This is not fair to either the fans or the athletes. Fans now need to travel at least double the distance to get to road games but more importantly, it’s really unfair for the student athletes who are getting even more time taken away from school,” senior Scott Cooley said.

However, there are arguments in favor of conference realignment, mainly arguing that it will create better competition and more exciting games.

“Oregon-Ohio State or Penn State-USC is going to produce audiences in the many millions. That’s all this is,” according to Yahoo Sports.

And while the thought of ranked match up after ranked match up is enticing to any viewer, this way of thinking is a clear indication that the sport has strayed from what it should be. 

College football should not value viewership and money so much because they are not professional teams. These changes are taking the sport farther and farther away from students, alumni, and loyal fans. Conference realignment is turning college football into a product, trying to attract customers rather than preserving history. Sadly, as fans all we can do is petition and be vocal in our criticism of these money focused decisions, advocating for reform and order that will save the sport.

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About the Contributor
Axel Saldanha
Axel Saldanha, Sports Editor
Axel Saldanha (12) is a sports co-editor for the TPH. Growing up in an active household, Axel enjoys spending his free time outdoors hiking, skiing, mountain biking, fishing, and backpacking. Axel is very interested in both history and biology and spends a lot of his free evenings educating himself about both.
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    Jimmie TaylorJan 19, 2024 at 1:01 pm

    Greed knows knows no bounds, the so called student athlete is now a pro, do to NIL and the portal. The college admins and the so called athletes do not care about the fans at all. I think we need to see contracts signed by the athletes to play at a school. Let them choose get NIL or a college education and stay with a school for 4 + years. The portal has destroyed the bowl games, soon fans will not watch unless things change.