Of all the interesting traditions Americans have, few are more difficult for a foreign audience to understand than our obsession with college sports.
When comparing the amount of money, time, and resources that go into the funding of amateur sports in America to other nations, few parallels can be found in any foreign area... anywhere... period. In Ireland, for instance, many of that country's most popular events include amateur athletes representing their home counties. And Australia has a long tradition of developing Aussie-Rules Football athletes at secondary schools.
But those events do not even come close to the organization, funding, and revenue that helps make college sports exist. The NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA help thousands of schools and hundreds of thousands of athletes compete at a very high level in dozens of sports. And more than of few of these teams, specifically playing Division I college football has a budget of over $100 million.
If you look at the numbers, it’s easier to understand the bewilderment of someone who grew up in a different sports culture.
So, what is the deal with college sports in America? Why do we revel in the performance of amateur athletes with die-hard commitment?
Keep reading below for a few reasons why Americans love their college sports so much.
College Teams Represent Very Specific Communities
Most administrators of higher education won’t argue with the fact that their athletic programs are the center of their educational community. With the variety of sporting events offered at major universities, it’s easy to not only get behind your favorite sport, but to also rally behind the other sports that represent your school. For this reason, loyalty is embedded in members of the community and it runs deep.
Players, parents, extended family, and friends are committed to their universities the moment they sign with them. It’s a commitment that represents their future, both in athletics and academics. Players wear their team logo like a badge of honor and Universities and coaching staff continue to uphold high standards of their players who represent them as they compete around the country.
Coaching of the sport is oftentimes only a fraction of the development that is taking place in a Universities athletic programs. These programs aim to create contributing members of society by teaching life values such as leadership, teamwork, sacrifice, and putting others before yourself. Once players leave the program, those life lessons are not forgotten and further ignite their loyalty to their universities.
The communities that are put in place on university campuses don’t die out after graduation. They come back to support their favorite athletics teams with their kids, grandkids, and even their great grandchildren.
Each College Team Has Loyalty, Legacy, and Tradition
Probably the most telling sign of community loyalty in college athletics in the United States is the continued support of alumni far after they’ve left their college athletic programs. Alumni become powerful ambassadors for their universities brand and are committed to making sure their alma mater continues to shine. This is why college sports continue to grow in America as more and more graduates come out of universities.
Penn State University is ranked #1 in Alumni networking in the United States. They boast 742,662 alumni worldwide. One of the biggest recruiting points for Penn State athletics is their alumni network.
Loyalty and tradition with alumni support leads to greater opportunities for athletes and academics within the University when they begin their first job search. When graduates are applying for jobs and their interviewees have attended the same university, it is likely they will go farther in the hiring process simply because they are loyal to their alma mater.
Loyalty and tradition are the backbone of the most successful universities. Alumni donate large sums of money each year to different athletic programs to support better facilities that will ultimately lead to better recruiting prospects that build better athletic programs.
As time wears on, the alumni networks continue to grow, and ultimately the popularity of college sports continues to grow. Americans bleed the colors of their alma maters far after they’ve left campus.
College Sports Are The Purest Form Of Entertainment
The main reason college sports are so popular in America is pure entertainment. The history, the rivalries, the tournaments, the overtimes, sports betting, and the excitement of the game all contribute to America's love of college sports.
There are countless rivalries in college sports across America: Ohio State vs. Michigan, Army vs. Navy, Oklahoma vs. Texas. The list goes on and on! Alumni and current college students live for rivalry games and the hatred runs deep. It all comes back to the loyalty and history of college athletics in America. The fans carry these wins and losses with them to the next year when they await their chance of redemption.
The peak of entertainment for college sports in America circles around the chance at greatness, the tournaments. March madness, the college world series, the national championships are all highlights for each individual college sport. Fans travel hundreds of miles to attend these sporting events, and millions of Americans tune in from their TV’s at home. Americans love nothing more than creating their sports brackets and tracking upsets!
One thing foreigners can agree on is that sports provide entertainment to the spectators and nobody capitalizes on this more than America.