National Champions - The Movie


    In the wake the start of the New Year's Eve College Football Playoff, a new film "National Champions" addresses the compelling issues of the College Athlete as it pertains to compensation.  As a drama, this tale surrounding the financial aspects of big-time college athletics is a mixed bag. It offers a compelling story — that of a star quarterback about to play in the college football championship leading a player boycott in the hopes of seeing performers in all sports better compensated in what is a multibillion-dollar enterprise. 

    The most important character is the aforementioned quarterback, LeMarcus James (Stephan James), whose undefeated Wolves (of an unnamed university) are 73 hours away from a final clash for the championship with the 13-1 Cougars (of another unidentified institution of higher learning). This year’s winner of the Heisman Trophy, LeMarcus is set to make millions as the likely top overall pick in the next NFL Draft. On a TV appearance, LeMarcus says that the system brings in $18.9 billion in revenue but that only $3.6 billion goes toward athletic scholarships. 

    While we all enjoy College Football, there are far more players that aren't star players that make it to the NFL. There are thousands of players on all collegiate levels that don't make it to the Pros, lose scholarships because of injury, often have lifetime injuries (which healthcare no longer continues once their scholarship is over), can't have a job while being a "student athlete", and stories who may go unheard because they aren't the "star" players. 

    The movies shows the complexities of College Athletics as it pertains to taking care of the schools interest and athletes well being. It also shows the layers involved with College Sports from Athletic Director, Conference Directors, Boosters, and Coaches. Financially you have TV Contracts, Sponsors, Cities that host events, Equipment sponsors, Shoe contracts, etc. While very few of these funds tend to trickle down to the players. Adopting a rule that student athletes can now make money for appearances, autographs, advertisements and social media posts in the NIL Deal (Name, Image, Likeness) to some that would be a "Win" however not for the film since it undercuts the trust of the film.   

    The movie falls short of the dramatic punch offered in many a Saturday college football game. On the other hand, it offers food for thought that "The System" will not reform itself


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