North Texas Daily

Athletes shouldn’t be criticized for sitting out games

Athletes shouldn’t be criticized for sitting out games

Athletes shouldn’t be criticized for sitting out games
October 24
11:15 2019

Just over a year ago, former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa decided to forgo the final seven games of the 2018 season, including the Big 10 Championship and the Rose Bowl. Bosa was predicted by many to be a top-5 draft pick, with some analysts going as far as to slot the youngest Bosa brother as the No. 1 overall pick. When April rolled around, Bosa was drafted second overall to the San Francisco 49ers.

Buckeyes fans were upset by Bosa’s decision and some football watchers dragged the star for quitting on his team. For context, Bosa was the best defensive player heading into the 2019 NFL Draft and it wasn’t close. He injured his core in the Week 3 matchup against Texas Christian and was told he might be able to return for the last few games. Instead, Bosa made the smart financial decision to shut down for the rest of the year and focus on the NFL, a decision that netted him $6.1 million for the 2019 NFL season.

Bosa’s decision wasn’t the first of its kind, as draft hopefuls have been sitting out of bowl games for years, including running backs Christian McCaffrey and Leonard Fournette. Both went in the first round and have earned a combined total of $30 million since 2017.

Of course, all three of these athletes could’ve participated in their missed games and escaped the injury risk. However, two prime examples in recent years can spell out why one non-playoff bowl games means less than physical and financial health: Michigan tight end Jake Butt and Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith.

Butt, who was predicted to be a first-round pick and the top tight end in the country, tore his ACL in the Wolverines’ bowl game against Florida State. Before tearing his ACL and MCL in the Fighting Irish’s bowl game against Ohio State the same year, Smith was predicted to be a top-5 pick. He was given a very low chance to ever run again before the Dallas Cowboys selected him in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Butt and Smith’s NFL careers have gone very different ways, but the ethical principle remains the same: If athletes believe that they are risking too much by playing in a non-playoff bowl game, or any game for that matter, they reserve the right to not play, especially when their talent rivals that of Bosa or Smith.

The biggest difference between Bosa and Butt and Smith is that the former took seven games off and that’s where the possible issue arises of finding a way to negate the three-year eligibility rule that the NFL and NCAA agreed upon. Technically, when Bosa lined up to play the first snap of the 2018 season, he used up his third year of eligibility, thus making him draft-eligible in 2019.

This could be taken advantage of by some athletes, but at the end of the day, it’s their body, their paycheck and their well-being on the line, not the NCAA’s.

With week nine of the college football season starting and the wear and tear starting to sit in, bear in mind that these college athletes constantly get screwed over by the NCAA and reserve the right to sit in order to protect their future best interests. If the starting running back or linebacker for your favorite team sits out of their non-playoff bowl game, think whether or not you’d do the same in order to secure millions for your family in less than six months.

Featured Illustration: Olivia Varnell

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Zachary Cottam

Zachary Cottam

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