As we are in the midst of bowl season in college football, we may be entering a new era in the sport. College football is loved for many reasons, one of which is its intensity and the athlete’s dedication to play. However, some of college football’s biggest stars are changing the script and opting out of playing in their teams’ bowl games, in order to prepare for the NFL Draft.

Two of the nation’s top running backs, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey, made waves in the sports world when they decided to sit out of their teams’ bowls to immediately begin preparing for the NFL Draft. Fournette’s LSU Tigers will face the Louisville Cardinals in the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, while McCaffrey’s Cardinal will go up against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. Both players were preseason favorites to be in the Heisman conversation, but after a less-than-stellar year plagued with injuries, they plan to clock out early and declare for the NFL Draft. Even with what many would consider unsuccessful seasons, Fournette and McCaffrey are still considered to be top 1st round picks in this year’s draft. Because of this, they thought it best to sit out of their teams’ bowl and avoid the risk of injury. Many analysts believe it to be the player’s right to do this, being that they have already given so much to their respective programs. However, many, including myself, disagree.

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and LSU running back Leonard Fournette

LSU and Stanford are two of the top and most respected schools in the country. No matter how good you are, it is a privilege to play for them, not a right. Now it is every player’s right to decide what is best for himself and his family. If you believe that it is best for you and your family that you declare for the NFL Draft, then you have every right to forgo your senior season at that school, and declare, but these players played for their team this year. They are a part of the team until the year is completed. They must be committed to the program and work as hard as everyone else on the team does. It is expected that the team will play in the bowl game they are invited to, and as players on the team, they should be playing as well.

Many believe that because of all that these players have given to their teams – blood, sweat, countless hours of dedication – that they should be allowed to do this as a “thank you” for all they have given. But one thing has been forgotten. What about what the college has given you? They gave you an opportunity to play the sport you love. They gave you the platform to make a name for yourself, and to support your family in the future if you make it to the pros. They gave you an education, so that when you are done playing football, you can make a living for yourself still, and support your family. Their coaches and fan base have supported you and cheered for you during your time there. You should be thanking them, and finishing out the season as a member of your team. The “thank you” is everything you get after football, for the rest of your life.

Football is the ultimate team sport, one player does not make a team, and everyone relies on the man next to him. When players start putting themselves before the team, football, as well as all the important lessons learned in it, will never be the same.