One of the most heated debates in the sport of football is which version of the sport is better, college or NFL. The traditions in college football, the lack of the “business” mindset of the game, the sense of unity felt between fans and players, and the overall higher rate of competition are the reasons why college football is by far the better version of the sport.
Traditions are without a doubt the coolest part of college football. Almost any college with a football program is bound to have at least one unique tradition practiced during, before, or after games. For example, Texas A&M has a tradition called midnight yell, where they practice all of their unique cheers for the game the night before, making sure they are ready for the next day. After every win at Auburn, fans roll all the trees in layers of toilet paper at Toomer’s Corner, with students and community members all taking part. The most annoying tradition to opposing teams lies at Mississippi State, where almost every fan in the stadium has a cowbell and constantly rings in during big plays or when they want a big stop on defense. Sure, the NFL might have a few small traditions such as fight songs or mascots. But college football has traditions, unique to each school, that can not be matched by the NFL’s cliches.
The National Football League is built around one thing: money. Players are brought in from college, moved from city to city, cut from teams and re-signed by others with one motivation: to sign a contract that secures their financials for the years to come. The reason that NFL teams are able to offer their players money is because they know if they bring in better players, that equals a better team, which then converts to a higher popularity of the team, resulting in more revenue for the franchise. In just under 30 years, Jerry Jones has turned the Dallas Cowboys into a $4.2 billion team after buying them for only $140 million in 1989. The average NFL franchise is worth $2.3 billion, as the whole league combines for a total of $74.8 billion between all 32 teams. The NFL is fed strictly on business: how they can get more fans to be attracted to them, and how they can get increase their standing in the league, explaining the motivation for teams to get better and improve their rosters in order to become world famous by winning the Super Bowl. Whereas, in college football, the players are fighting for their school, not a paycheck. Sure, the NCAA allows schools to give out scholarships to athletes but that is strictly for living expenses and education. The players don’t need to rely on football for their paycheck in college the only thing they need to do is play to represent their school and if they are lucky, make it to the NFL.
Like high school, students who attend a certain school, or university, go to the games to cheer on their team that is associated with their school. No matter that the players are on scholarship, they are still student-athletes, meaning they attend the university and are not there for just strictly football, but to also receive a free education and experience college life. The reality is that college players are just students that you would see on an everyday campus. This means that they have friends around the university and probably know a good number of people. For instance, just like an average student at a university, the student athletes take the same classes, meaning that someone could have a class or multiple classes with a star athlete like Baker Mayfield at OU, Lamar Jackson at Louisville, or Saquon Barkley at Penn State. However, the odds that you would bump into a star NFL player like TOm Brady on the streets of Boston is very unlikely.When a college student decides to go to the game, they can feel a sense of unity with the team that is out on the field due to the fact that there is a very good possibility they are acquaintances with at least one of the players and if they are not, they are still cheering on their fellow Aggies, Sooners, Razorbacks, etc.
Many collegiate football players have had the same dream since they were children: make it to the NFL and support their families and play the sport that they love. The overall competition in college football is so much more entertaining to watch than it is in the NFL. In the NFL, players are obviously better and more selective than they are in college, however, there is no place to go higher than the NFL which cuts a lot of motivation out in comparison to college players who are fighting everyday for a chance at a NFL roster spot, hereby making it a tougher environment to play in which results to a better atmosphere for fans. In the NFL, half of the teams make the playoffs, so even if you are just an average NFL team, you have a very good chance at making the playoffs with even 6 or more loses. However, in college every single week counts if a team is looking to win it all. Even one loss on a bad week, there is a great chance that that team would not make the College Football Playoffs, due to the fact it is only the top four teams out of 128 FBS colleges.