Scott Van Pelt's "One Big Thing" segment on Tuesday night was about the emergence of "Signing Day" as a spectacle among all football fans, not just college football nerds. And he's right. I'm barely a football fan, and even I find myself perusing the commitment boards on espn.com from time to time. Now, before you read any further I encourage you to, if you haven't already, watch John Oliver's side-splitting shreddage of the NCAA in the link above in order to give a little more context of where I am coming from. Because I think that we're looking at this day in all the wrong ways.
Currently we romanticize Signing Day as a celebration of the accomplishments of talented young football players. We see it as the first step in a process of elevating a kid that probably would not have the opportunities he has if it weren't due to his athletic abilities. But the reality is that these boys are literally signing themselves away to a multibillion-dollar industry that claims to be a nonprofit. And for what? What is the payoff?
I actually took an hour and wrote out all the statistics of how many players end up making to the NFL and how many actually make respectable money, but I decided that was too long and too boring. So instead I'll summarize it like this for you: nobody makes it. Nobody. Not even D1 football players make it. Saying "some D1 football players make it to the NFL" is less accurate than saying "no D1 football players make it to the NFL," statistically speaking. And then of those that make it to the NFL, roughly none of them end up making enough money that will sustain them anywhere even close to a lifetime. These are truths not opinions, stats are facts. So almost all of these signees that you're seeing on Sportscenter or on the internet are only going to get a college education out of the deal. And the only price is working a full-time job, that undeniably destroys your mind and body, on top of going to school. And then when you're done, as John Oliver points out, you have an ailing mind and body with a degree in Swahili.
I didn't want this post to just be another "football is actually really bad, and dumb" article, but the sport always seems to make the argument for me. The initial intent was to just be pointing out how foolish it is to follow Signing Day. However, as I did more research, it is more of a disgusting celebration in much of the same way that the sport is. Pure entertainment and nothing more.
But hey, congrats to Michigan for signing the most talented group of guys that will ultimately meet their much too early demise due to complications related to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or suicide. I'm sure we all look forward to encouraging another batch of talented young kids to limp their way toward this fantastic life path again next year.