Thursday, November 4, 2010

My Reaction to the Latest Cam Newton Mess

Didn't I just write a whole big piece about how Cam Newton is better than Tim Tebow ever was? So good, in fact, that he rivals Reggie Bush as the greatest college football player of my lifetime?

Well, it seems that there's rain in the forecast for this parade.

I'm not going to spend much time on trying to break down whether or not it happened. I don't have the time or the access to try, and I'm sure somebody else will figure it out pretty soon.

But I will say this...

If it's it true, I won't be surprised.

Not because I think Cam Newton is a bad guy. Or a cheat. Or just a poor kid who is only trying to provide for his family. Or that he's an athlete mad at all of these old men making millions of him, and he just wants his piece. None of that.

I won't be surprised because whenever one of these stories pops up, it just always seems to turn out to be true. Sometimes it all unfolds in a big Yahoo! Sports exclusive, and there are other times that it drags on for years and years to the point that no one cares anymore. And then there are the times that it drags on and on and then the NCAA extinguishes the USC football program.

But it's almost become numbing, hasn't it? If Cam Newton got paid, should I be mad about it? Maybe, but I'm betting I won't be. Because I've seen this story before. Quite a few times.

This isn't an opinion of whether or not Cam Newton deserves money either. Yeah, these kids make a lot of money for these old men in suits, and that doesn't seem right. But if you start paying the college players, you're opening up a big bag of problems - does this mean you pay the women's soccer team, too? And what about the schools where paying players would bankrupt their programs - would they start cutting athletic programs across the board?

It's all messed up. Which makes me wonder why we all care so much about it.

Or at least we have been.

I think it's safe to say that college sports are bigger now than ever before. With the ratings and billion-dollar TV contracts now generated, the passion that people carry with them every weekend (and basketball weeknights) for college sports is at an all-time high. Every Saturday, from 11 o'clock central until I fall asleep, there is a football game on my television screen. You can't escape it.

But I wonder if this gluttonous approach we are taking (or being force-fed) will have a generational effect. Do you think that majority of the next generation of sports fans, those who are 2 to 13 years old right now, will share the same level of passion for college sports?

Care as much about organizations that constantly find themselves in and out of probation, under investigation, or with postseason bans? Self-imposed penalties and coaches who straight up LIE to investigators? Players who are on the take, and agents with runners. Runners with their own runners.

At some point, enough is enough, and it makes you stop caring.

Now, I'm too far in now to ever stop caring myself, because I just enjoy the entertainment way too much. But I do think this is something we should take note of.

The sport is turning itself into something we don't want to attach ourselves to emotionally. Technology allows us all kinds of opportunity to dtach ourselves from it: your living room is now a better seat than the stadium, more availabl games on television and online allow you to spread your rooting interests thinner over a larger group of teams, and technology's access to gambling allows you to care less about the team - and more about the pointspread. (Something I have a little 'issue' with.)

Will the next generation - my kids, your kids and grandkids (born and unborn) - be a generation of passionless sports fans?

Now, this little soap box rant was started by a story on whether or not Cam Newton was shopped around. I don't know if he was or not, but I'll say again that it always seems that when this stuff is brought up, more than likely something fishy was going on.

And if it does turn out to be true, I won't be surprised. Because I'm numb to it now, and I don't really care if he was on the take or not.

And I think not caring is a problem.