Somewhat lost in the sports news of the last couple of weeks was the decision of Stanford football star Christian McCaffrey opting not to play for Stanford in the upcoming Sun Bowl.
Officially, the reason given was McCaffrey wants to prepare for the NFL draft. But realistically, McCaffrey does not want to run the risk of getting hurt in the game, which in turn could affect his draft status.
He is not the only college player to do so this year as Leonard Fournett of LSU is taking the same route.
Honestly, I think this is garbage in both cases and is unfair to the bowl games, fans of the team and finally, the players themselves.
Stanford traditionally does not travel well (does not sell a ton of tickets), but with a player like McCaffrey in the game, there is more interest. Had he declared before the bowl selections were made, the Sun Bowl may have gone somewhere else with the selection. Now they are stuck with a far less appealing match-up.
I also guarantee if Stanford was going to the Rose Bowl or was a top four team and in the playoffs, McCaffrey would be playing. But because it is the Sun Bowl he needs to prepare for the NFL Draft.
Teammates have been Tweeting support for McCaffrey, which is also a reason I feel he should be playing. College is the last place for an athlete to have a real brotherhood bond with his teammates.
Professional athletics is a business and while there are friendships, at the end of the day it’s a business and it is a me-first attitude. College has become a lot of business first, but is still a team as you live with your teammates, hopefully go to class with your teammates and when you add in their respective sport, spend nearly all your time together.
That McCaffrey’s teammates have publicly supported him shows the bound that has been formed. What McCaffrey needs to understand that once you leave college and that brotherhood, you can’t go back.
Another aspect of this entire issue is that it trickles down to the high school athletes and I feel sets a poor example. High school sports have been moving in this direction for some time – the me-first attitude – and is getting worse each year.
The biggest example of this are kids that stop playing other sports so they can focus on their “best sport”. Most of the time, its disillusioned parents advising their child about what sport to “focus” on. But in recent times, some coaches have begun to pressure kids to play only one sport.
They may not officially say that, but trust me, it’s implied and if you don’t believe that, you have your head in the sand.
I grew up in Pleasanton where playing multiple sports was not just allowed, but encouraged. Coaches worked together to make it happen and supported kids playing multiple sports.
I can remember while I was the sports editor at the Tri-Valley Herald, the Kernan sisters played both soccer and basketball – in the same season – for Amador.
There were times where the girls would go straight from a soccer game to a basketball game. It’s the only time in my many years of writing where basketball players would have dirt and grass stains on their knees.
Few kids go on to play college sports and a very small, microscopic number make it to professional sports. High school and in theory, college, should be about building memories and not about me-first.
I personally know people my age that regret decisions made when in high school and it pains me to see similar decisions being made now. Twenty years from now, these kids will look back when they are attending class reunions and understand it. But it will then be far too late for them to change what happened.