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Zero Hour: Persistence is Key

The movement is working

Illustration: James H. Jimenez | Photo: ESPN/Outside the Lines

I was in the hipster grocery store today purchasing tofu sour cream and it hit me. The movement is working. Being a fan of the MAC is a bit like shopping local, for organic food, like we used to eat, but with certain changes. If I can shop at a store like that, then anyone can be a fan of the MAC. It’s a question of marketing and necessity.

I am going to use football as the example, but this applies sports wide. The NFL today is nothing like what I grew up with as a child. While they were just starting to become millionaires, they still seemed like regular people that I grew up around. There were a variety of personalities. Some pitched products, some were incapable of doing so because they were the villain.

Then the came the big bucks.

The professionals moved in, not just on the field and the sideline, but into the TV booth as well. No longer was is just a group of football fanatics being fanatical about football, it was productions based on dollars and cents. Didn’t make much sense to me. Now, controversy doubles as a Nike ad campaign.

I watch the NFL, but mostly just to catch up on my favorite college players.

Major college football is now like the NFL used to be. Sure there is a production, but there is still a lot of that amateur passion. And they talk about 30 or so teams. Ok, closer to 8. Even a lot of the power conference teams have been regulated down to a second tier that is not worthy of mention on the national broadcasts. These kids that only slightly get paid are put on such a pedestal from the time they start getting their recruiting stars that they hardly resemble normal students. Would it really shock anyone if one of these super stars uttered a “Let them eat cake” type of comment when talking about the financial struggles of a regular student?

Meanwhile in the rust belt, the MAC keeps on truckin. It’s student athletes playing a game they love, followed by a band of zealots that still love their version of football. With the pay to play model the NCAA will surely adopt in the near future, that will be the slow death of major college football. First, the second tier major schools will fall, as they are already trending down. Nobody wants to line up to be fodder for the juggernaut.

The MAC, in her struggles to remain financially relevant, will actually being to prosper when they start paying athletes. As a lot of major college fans will either fall off the map or shift up to the higher paying NFL, some will yearn for the game of old. Sure, there will be some money going to the MAC players, but it will be more legit. Instead of a wink and nod deal with the local car dealership, Billy the Back’s 10 year old Mazda will be on the up and up. The best of the best will still head to the NFL, while the rest will move in next store and be the pillars of our community, as they always have.