Thursday, August 15, 2013

Johnny Football's Problems Are Your Fault

Don't try to hide it. You are personally responsible for Johnny Manziel (aka Johnny Football) allegedly cheating the system and signing autographs for money for at least a year. You are personally responsible for his family trying to trademark the phrase “Johnny Football” so they can form a company that legally prints the t-shirts so they can make a buck even though they are filthy rich already.  (Note:  The NCAA then said that maybe they can get the copyright, but they can't sell the shirts.

It is all your fault.

Okay, it's all mine too.

Maybe I don't know how you caused Johnny Football to cheat the system, but I know how I did. Maybe some of what I did will sound familiar to what you did. Together, we caused Johnny Football to cheat.

Here's the biggest thing I did: some time ago, I became a voracious college football fanatic. “Fan” is too mild a word, “fanatic,” is very appropriate. During the college football season, I demand incessant amounts of college football games to be played on every platform I can watch them. I demand they be not just on my teevee, but on my phone with a terrible battery so that I can only watch mere minutes of them. I demand that they be on my computer. When I am at an establishment, I demand that live college football be put upon the screen.

I demand that there be games not just Saturday afternoons in the fall. Even though that's when college football was made to be played, with the rustle of leaves and a chill in the air. Where I may or may not be part of the occasional tailgate, arriving at the stadium my choice hours early, to wear my team's colors and drink beverages that certainly have no alcohol whatsoever in them. To hear things sizzle on grills, to see the marching band march through the parking lot, to see people wayyyyyyy more into it than I am. And finally, to shuffle into the stadium an hour or more before kickoff, to sit in seats that Mini-Me would have trouble fitting into, to cheer and yell and enjoy and lose my voice doing so. To make new friends based on who found it better to sell on Stub Hub, to see the breakout star, to love the experience, to spend an entire weekend discussing all aspects of the game.

No, I demand that there be games played on Tuesdays, on Wednesdays, on Thursdays, even on Friday nights, so that parents with season tickets must choose whether to go to their kids high school volleyball/soccer/football match, or go to the major prime time college game. When that happens, I'm basically demanding that businesses all over town lose business, because 50 thousand potential customers won't be there- but maybe they'll have to park there so they can go to the game. I demand extra gridlock during commute time, I demand more public transport in addition to the usual commute busses. I demand more police to make sure the roads are clear to get to my game.

And when it's not game day, I demand to wear all manner of hats and t-shirts and jerseys. I demand that all sorts of trinkets be produced so that I can remind myself and everyone around me that I am a fan of my college football team. What good is a car without a bumper sticker proclaiming my team is great and your teams sucks? What good is a bottle opener if it is does not have an official logo on it? What good is a plain hat?

I pump hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars into the college football economy on a yearly basis. But the college football player sees none of this. All of what I mentioned above, from the beer at the tailgate (every college has an “officialbeer sponsor,” yes, they all do, even though most students are underage) to their own jersey sales, the money that arrives because of it goes to everyone but the athlete. All in the name of “amateur” athletics, which, if you haven't figured out by now, isn't so amateur after all.

(Just a few weeks ago, ESPN commentator Jay Bilas was alerted to the fact that on the NCAA's own website, youcould search for jerseys by the athlete's name... even though legally, jerseys cannot be sold with the athlete's name on the back, all in the name of amateur athletics. The NCAA then changed the search engine, sort of. Bilas nevertheless told of backdoor ways one is still able to search by the athlete's name.  The NCAA then shut down the shop.)

So, as his school and his conference and his sport's governing body and everybody else has made thousands, millions and billions off of me, and you, and everybody else, Johnny Football has made legally absolutely nothing as a college football player. So he has apparently sold his signature for a couple of grand.

And he's the bad guy?

Do you blame him? It's your fault he had to do it, anyway.

And mine.

There's a damned good chance that Johnny Football will be suspended for at least a game or two because of selling his autograph. And when that happens, then thousands more will be spent on the commercials on the teevee and radio shows that argue about whether he should have been suspended. He will certainly continue to be in the spotlight all college football season, whether he plays of not. Millions more are guaranteed to be made off of the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, whether he actually steps on the field in a game this season.

The question of whether Manziel is a punk kid or not because he was born with a silver spoon and given everything he wanted from day one is irrelevant (and besides, the answer is yes, anyway). It does not stop the fact that he is not being rewarded with the highest reward in the American capitalist system for being able to perform his job at the highest level, and that is straight cash, homey.

We are all college football fans, and we have made anything associated with college football as a veritable license to license to print money for everyone involved... except, of course, the players themselves. So they demand a couple of grand for autograph sessions or something like that, probably just to feel like they're getting compensated in some way.

Don't give me that crap that they're getting a scholarship to college, and that should be enough. A scholarship does not provide for spending money on the weekends, for the ability to fill your gas tank, for the ability to buy your girl a malt at the corner soda fountain, to pay for internet at your apartment, to get a new game for your XBOX, to buy a ticket for a concert.

Johnny Football is Example 1 and 1A for all that is wrong with amateur college athletics, and it's all your fault. And mine, too. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go watch a college football preview show. Oh look, they're talking about Johnny Football.