The college football season is over and what I feel is relief and not because the Alabama Crimson Tide won the national championship. I feel relief that the pressure has been taken off. The season takes a great deal of my time and mental energy. I understand it is a choice, but while in the midst of it, it feels more like a compulsion.
I grew up watching Alabama play football. Some of my earliest memories involve watching and attending games with my family and friends. But I am dismayed by the amount of time I allow college football to take up of my life. I spend many Saturday afternoon and evenings watching the games and countless hours reading people’s opinions about who the best teams are and why.
During the mid-nineties and through the beginning of the Nick Saban era, I hardly paid any attention at all to Alabama football. During that time Alabama was a middle of the road team, rarely competing for any titles. Now that we are winning again, I can’t seem to get off the roller coaster ride of emotions that watching the games provides. This season that ride took me from the despair of losing to Auburn to the elation of watching DeVonta Smith catch the pass that won the National Championship.
But with each passing year, I find it harder to turn away from the dark side of the sport. Increasingly, I find it uncomfortable to support an activity that can be so brutal. It is getting too hard to watch players go down with season ending injuries, to see players lying on the field in agony, and watching some of the toughest men alive brought to tears by pain, both physical and emotional.
I want to let this obsession with Alabama football go.
I want to not care who wins on Saturday.
But like any compulsion, it seems out of my control. A few weeks from now I’m sure I’ll be trolling through the sports pages to see if Alabama wins another recruiting championship. In late spring, I’ll be wishing there was some college football news to get me through to the start of the season. Perhaps next year, I’ll be able to let go a little bit more. Perhaps.
Notes: I was planning on talking about the widely reported stories that professional football players have shorter lifespans, higher suicide rates, and higher incidences of domestic violence. However, it seems these stories are inaccurate, or at least don’t tell the whole story. See Forbes and Slate for more.