College Football Is Back!

College football is back! Just as summer is winding down to a close, the fall is rapidly approaching, and there is no better indicator of that than the resumption of college football! Baseball is still droning on, actually reaching it’s peak, but if your home town team is not in the playoff race, as a true sports fan your attention will be more and more drawn to the gridiron classic, the spectacle and grandeur, the pomp and circumstance of college football as the annual indicator that fall has indeed arrived!….

College football is different from pro football because this is where the field of dreams really lies…Every single one of these college players secretly nurses “the dream” the certain knowledge that they will defy all the odds and make it to the pros…They are all young, healthy young men, 18-21 years old on average, and most of them think they are invincible, unbreakable, unstoppable…The flash and dash and panache they display can only be shown off by the true believers, they are all psyched up, lathered into a frenzy by their coaches, and willing to sacrifice their bodies for the good of the team, to give it that old college try….

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They have never had a serious injury and they think it will always be that way, that they are athletically immortal, bulletproof, untouchable and that is why they are willing to fling their bodies around with reckless abandon on the playing field on every play….So break out those old pom poms, cheerleader skirts, letter man jackets and megaphones and settle in for a long Saturday on this, September 5, 2015, the official kickoff to the college football season, which will culminate in a playoff system at the end of the year with the best qualified, most athletically gifted teams vying for the honor of being the #1 team in the country!…..

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16 October 2010: Four body painted USC student fans during an NCAA football game between the California Golden Bears and the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, CA.collegefootball22fans

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There are 27! yes count them, 27 major football games being televised today, from 9am in the morning until the last kickoff at 8 pm, and each and every one of these teams are true believers in the myth and magic of college football…And why not? They are all BMOC (Big Men On Campus), all the players at the major college level have been recruited as blue chip players from high school, they are All State or All City or All Conference players or they would not have ever been offered a scholarship in the first place…

The girls love them, the guys wish they could be like them, and even the professors are usually more than willing to cut them some slack academically for the good of the team and hence the good of the college or university, and so they swagger through their weekly classes knowing they are the anointed ones, the special ones, the keepers of the key, the ones who just know it their destiny to excel at their chosen sport…

They play before huge masses of adoring fans every week, over 100,000 people crammed into some of the more venerable and time honored stadiums with programs like Michigan and Penn State, Ohio State, the Texas Aggies, the Tennessee Volunteers, the LSU Tigers, The Alabama Crimson Tide, the Texas Longhorns…..The TV cameras are everywhere, there is electricity in the air and the screams from the assembled faithful home town crowds fill their ears from the first booming kickoff of the game, when 22 players rush full speed down the field to smash and crash against each other with a tremendous, gut wrenching, sometime bone breaking impact of the inevitable and hungrily sought after collisions with each other…

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{071201-N-6463B-543} -- Baltimore, MD. (Dec. 1, 2007) -- CAPTION Navy Quarter Back Troy Gross gets sacked by a blitzing Army defender at the 108th annual Army vs. Navy football game at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, MD. The Navy defeated the Black Knights of Army with a score of 38-3. The Navy Midshipmen have now won the past six Army Navy battles. The 8-4 Midshipmen have accepted an invitation to play in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego, Ca on Dec. 20th. SLUG LINE U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Herbert D. Banks Jr. (RELEASED)

For some unlucky players, their aura of invincibility is shattered right there, as they are carted off the field like so many broken down gladiators, or shattered race cars, to be turned over to the mercies of the college medical staff, but these are all young, healthy men in peak physical condition so the injuries don’t usually come until later….Not one of them thinks that THEY personally will ever be injured, and it is a sobering reality check when it does happen to one of them…For theirs is the dream and the glory, and they cherish and nourish this dream fiercely tightly, protectively…they are young, and the world is theirs for the taking…

Michigan's Delano Hill, right, shoves Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 25, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich. Hill was penalized on the play. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)colleggefootballdakota

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According to my Google sources: “Concussions at all levels of football are a tremendous problem as of 2011, with a growing number of retired professional football players suffering from dementia after repeated concussions during their playing days. Among college football players, 34 percent have had one concussion and 30 percent have had two or more concussions.

As the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery reports, if you have a second concussion, even a minor one, soon after the first concussion, you might die. A total of 26 deaths, most occurring since 2000, are attributed to “second impact syndrome.” The neurological effects of concussions in college athletes also can result in learning disabilities and severe memory impairments.

There are approximately 12, 650 players playing for Division I football teams every year…. Not surprisingly, football still has the highest injury rate with 36 injuries per 1,000 male athletes. In addition to the high number of collisions and concussions in football, it also has the highest number of knee and ankle injuries.

Somewhat surprisingly, to me at least, is that “Cheer leading is by far the most dangerous sport for women athletes. The National Center for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research found that cheer leading accounted for 70.5 percent of catastrophic injuries — fatal, disabling or serious — suffered by college athletes. The high-flying routines create unique risks for cheerleaders.

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ANN ARBOR, MI - NOVEMBER 30: Michigan Wolverines fans look on against the Ohio State Buckeyes during a game at Michigan Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)371494 01: FILE PHOTO: Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush is seen as a cheerleader at Phillips Academy in Andover MA., in a 1964 school archive photo June 23, 2000. (Copy Photo by Darren McCollester/Newsmakers)

And of the thousands of college football players eligible for the NFL draft, how many actually make it?…Again according to my Google sources: “So, including the 50 or so underclassmen who leave college and declare themselves eligible for the NFL draft, that’s a pool of 3,500 players who could be drafted each year. Now consider the number of players who were drafted by NFL teams in 2011: 254.

In other words, only approximately 7% of eligible players get drafted. Those players then have to compete with everyone else on the roster, plus any undrafted college free agents (that is, players who weren’t drafted but are still offered the chance to try to make the roster), plus any other veterans or players from other leagues the team might want to check out, just to make it onto the Week 1 roster.”

Those are the cold hard facts, but try reciting them to some amped up, jacked up adrenaline laced 18 or 19 year old player suited up for the first time for the annual Saturday gridiron classic in front of a packed house of adoring, worshipful fans….As the ball sails down the field and the players pursue it, they are also chasing their hopes, their fantasies, their destinies, their entire lives….They have tunnel vision and are fueled with the myth of their own invincibility, and they can see only the glory, only the dream….

So enjoy today’s game of your choice, because for better or worse, college football is back!

For more articles by John Whye, click on johnwhye@wordpress.com

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