For the past several years watching Purdue Sports on TV has felt more like an obligation than something I actually want to do. I dutifully show up in front of the screen at the appointed time, but honestly the snark on Twitter is more enjoyable than watching the game most of the time. I'm not referring to the team's performance here, I stayed a fan through the Hope and Hazell years. I'm referring to the idea that being so emotionally invested in the athletic successes and failures of 18-21 year old kids has just stopped being fun.
There are plenty of reasons to not support big time NCAA sports.
- There is really nothing "amateur" about it. The kids have access to the best equipment, facilities, and training in the world.
- The kids are without a doubt getting screwed on the trade. They get a 4 year scholarship, which at many if not most of the schools comes with the expectation that they will focus on football or basketball first and do just enough to maintain a B average in school, preferably in a major that makes that easy.
- Meanwhile the schools make millions and millions on the backs of the kids, 97% of which will not make a living in pro sports but will graduate with degrees that limit their initial earning potential.
- The NCAA itself is a corrupt organization that over and over makes decisions that prioritize money over the athletes' well being.
- Particularly with NCAA football, there is really zero suspense about who the top teams will be every year. If you didn't go to one of about 10 schools your chances of celebrating a national championship reduce to zero.
I'm not referring to Div II/III or non-revenue sports here. Those kids almost universally are playing for fun or the thrill of competition, etc. They generally are not being paid to play, and they generally know there are no riches at the end of the rainbow.
When the NCAA Tournament was canceled last year due to the pandemic I barely noticed. Had the games been played I would have watched many of them. But the games not being played had zero impact on my life. That was the seed that started me thinking about the role of college sports in my life.
So when Hulu Live raised rates yet again in December, I saw an opportunity. The up-charge for Hulu Live is $50/month, and an examination of our TV viewing habits revealed that the only thing we really need Hulu Live for is Purdue sports. I watch the Premier League on Peacock, and MLB via MLB TV. I quit the NFL about 5 years ago, and I quit the NBA when Bird and Magic retired.
So I let the Live TV subscription expire a week ago, as an experiment. In that time we have missed two Purdue basketball games. I hardly noticed. It's not like I can't find the highlights online almost in real time if I want them. It's not like the score and stats aren't available in real time online if I want to follow along. I still hope Purdue does well in football and basketball, because it brings money into the University and is just good PR in general. I'll still look forward to going back for Homecoming or to an occasional game when I can because the in-person atmosphere of big time college sports is a level of fun that is hard to match. I may even watch on TV if Purdue is featured on one of the networks.
However, I've learned I don't want to dedicate hours per week to watch in real time on TV. I'm over college sports. And I'm okay with that.