Saturday, January 2, 2016

Are There Just Too Many Bowl Games? Or Not Enough?

We are nearing the end of bowl season.  We have a full slate today and then the National Championship game in about 10 days.  As usual, bowl season has had its ups and downs ... but is it the right amount of each?  Is the bowl season too long, not long enough or just right?

I've always subscribed to the thinking that there can never be "too many" bowl games.  Ultimately, the kids get to play in one last game (that's huge for a senior) and a place they may not usually get to go to.  They get a week worth of activities and some swag along the way.

Look at the Russell Athletic Bowl, where North Carolina played Baylor.  The game is in Orlando.  UNC may get to go to Florida to play Miami or Florida State once in a while, but how often does Baylor's players?  Orlando in December.  They also have some activities to get through, including some life altering ones, per the bowl's official website:
Located in Kissimmee, the Give Kids the World village houses children, and their families, with life-threatening illnesses and gives the players and coaches time to spend time with the kids and play games, ride rides and compete in a dance-off.
They also get quite a collection of gifts.  One is a $350 gift card to a local retailer of their choosing.  So they can get clothes, electronics, or even use it to buy loved ones Christmas presents.  They also get a watch, footwear, beach towel and other things.  Around the country, there are watches, cowboy boots, beanies, backpacks, pullovers, shopping trips, sunglasses, hats, speakers, cell phone cases and all kinds of other gifts.

That's cool for the kids.  Some don't get these kinds of opportunities often, even if you think they do at a major college program.  Not all of these schools are major programs.

This thinking is my main line of thinking.  It's good for the kids.

Of course, there is the part that looks bad.  The stadiums that are barely filled.  It looks bad on TV, especially with the wide shots of the stadium.  Some are in some no-exotic cities like Albuquerque, Boise, Birmingham, Shreveport, Montgomery and Annapolis.  Nothing against those cities, but they aren't Miami, New Orleans or San Diego.  Some bowls have rather unattractive names that just have that feel of a corporate cash grab. Hey, that's the world we live in.  The Famous Idaho Potato GoDaddy world presented by Dr. Pepper.

This year, there were a few 5-7 teams that made bowls.  That's where people are starting to have the biggest gripes.  The Cure Bowl (which is in Orlando, like two other bowls) ended with both teams having losing records.  Wasn't a bowl trip supposed to signify a darn good season?  Not anymore.  There are 80 teams playing in these 41 bowls.  Back in 1995, there were just 18 bowls.  Do the math and that means 25 ranked teams and just 11 unranked teams made a bowl game.  Now 5-7 teams get there.

There are even bowls in the works for Austin, Australia and Charleston, South Carolina.  Bowl games are good TV.  They are live events in an age where that's key to advertisers and the games are on during a weak period for programming.  Is it stretching this a bit too thin?  Only for people who just don't think mediocre football should be celebrated.

Again, I'm all about the end result: these kids from schools who normally don't get the opportunity have a blast.  Do you think Georgia State's football team gets to be nationally televised on ESPN as the lone game at the time often?

Just enjoy it.

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