Don’t waste your time watching bowl games

Hypocrisy, profit and exploitation of players are all those games really are about

SHARE Don’t waste your time watching bowl games
NCAA president Mark Emmert likes to say the governing body is about education, student-athletes and morality. Don’t believe him.

NCAA president Mark Emmert likes to say the governing body is about education, student-athletes and morality. Don’t believe him.

David J. Phillip/AP

I used to write annually about the joy and absurdity of postseason bowl games.

But something happened. I lost my focus. Was it global warming? The 17th season of ‘‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians’’?

Whatever, I apologize.

But I’m back, and away we go!

First off, know that the ‘‘reward’’ of playing an extra game of big-time football — without pay or tangible recompense — is akin to the reward of tumbling down a flight of stairs one extra time ‘‘for fun.’’

I do wonder: When the Big Scorer tabulates your worthiness at the end of days, will you be proud to say, ‘‘Sir, I played in the Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl’’?

(Note: After a five-year run, that sponsored game ended — sadly — in 1995.)

There are 39 of these postseason affairs, not counting the all-star games such as the Senior Bowl, East-West Shrine Game, etc., and they can keep you torpid far into 2020.

Even though bowl games proliferate like fungi on wet drywall, coaches and schools take great pride in declaring their teams to be ‘‘bowl-worthy’’ and will brag about the number of times their school has played in a bowl, any bowl.

I asked long ago, I think, whether former players in midlife will be proud to show off their Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl watches or whether they’ll just fire up another dish of Kraft mac and cheese and give the watches to people on the street.

Why the cynicism, you ask?

Well, maybe because the NCAA overlords care about nothing but making money with their unpaid labor, which is what the players are.

The NCAA, behind snake-tongued president Mark Emmert, says it’s about education, student-athletes, morality and so forth.

OMG. I’m screaming. Rolling on the floor laughing.


Well, maybe you don’t care that athletes accused of sexual assault routinely leave one school and play at another. Or that the National Organization for Women has declared the NCAA to be ‘‘a repeat offender’’ when it comes to letting ‘‘college athletes charged with assault off the hook.’’

The NCAA preaches ethics till it’s exhausted. But, hey, if a player can help beat State U., by golly, bring him in.

So there’s that.

Then there’s the NCAA’s rules about alcohol and gambling and absolutely no advertising about such. But that doesn’t mean Wiser’s Canadian Whiskey, Admiral Nelson’s Rum, Elijah Craig Bourbon, Beefeater Gin (which I really like) and all kinds of wines, casinos and beers don’t have sponsorships at bowl games.

How is that tolerated? Hypocrisy and profit. They’re the two biggest things you learn in college football if you’re not a plant brain or in jail.

All right, enough of beating the NCAA horse with all it’s wealthy, old-boy riders. Yet I can’t help mentioning this: A lot of bowl-game executives — who do nothing but put out one game a year with free labor — make a quarter-million dollars or more annually.

I’ll call them clowns because they are. They lack only the big shoes and joy buzzers.

Have you seen them in their orange, lime-green or magenta sport coats? I have. Reminiscent of Captain Kangaroo or that scary Garfield Goose dude on old WGN-TV.

But back to the games.

By now, I’m afraid that a few of them are over. You missed — or maybe you didn’t, God have mercy on your soul — such comedy acts as the Gasparilla Bowl (what?), the Cure Bowl (cure what?) and the Bahamas Bowl (understood).

You still have the Redbox Bowl (Red Nose Bowl?), the Camping World Bowl (got tents, pitch ’em!) and the Cheez-It Bowl (honest, people, I did not make that up).

Then there’s the Belk Bowl (Belk up, boys!), the Pinstripe Bowl (looks good on the Yankees) and the Quick Lane Bowl (my favorite of the year).

Why do I like that last one so much? Because it’s almost a play on words, like a fast bowling alley that’s actually a bowl game. Bowling used two ways. Know what I mean?

No? OK, then, just wait for the serious games near the end: the Peach Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl and then the national championship game Jan. 13.

That final one isn’t called a bowl game, per se. But I’ll call it that because — what the heck? — it is. Which makes an even 40.

Dare I name it Clown Bowl I?

The Latest
The crash of two semis caused a small fire. The road is expected to be closed for two to three hours, police said.
The boy was taken to a nearby hospital in serious condition after being grazed in the head, police said.
Another man was wounded Monday in North Lawndale.
Chicago City Council members can select who they want on committees and who should lead them. State law and the city’s own rules clearly spell out they have that power. They just have always opted out and have given the mayor their blessing to do their bidding.
Zack Park, 34, was charged with first-degree murder in the death of 18-year-old John Park on the Northwest Side.