This Saturday, 100,000-plus people will file into the Big House for a college football tradition like none other.
Some will be students, others alumni and 25 percent will not have even attended the University. But according to John U. Bacon, a renowned sports journalist and a University lecturer, it won’t matter what background you come from. If you put your hand in the air and say, “Hail,” you’re welcome.
These are traditions that define college football programs, each with rich cultures and histories surrounding them for future generations to discover and become a part of. That is why the preservation of the sport’s integrity is now more important than ever.
Friday at 4 p.m., Bacon will address his concerns about the future of college football in his event “The Fight for the Soul of College Football: Who’s Winning and Why it Matters.”
The event is a University Parents Weekend Open House held by the LSA Honors Program for honors students and their parents, but the event will likely be more inclusive.
Bacon will make his speech in conjunction with his most recent book, “Fourth and Long: The Fight for the Soul of College Football.” For those who attend his lecture Friday or plan to read his book, Bacon has one big takeaway in mind.
“I want people to have a deeper understanding of why college athletics can be so important and so valuable,” Bacon said, “and also why it needs to be taken care of or else we’re going to lose it.”
Historian Tyran Steward interviewed Bacon in an author’s forum Wednesday, and Bacon cautioned viewers about the downfall of college football, which is his central talking point this Friday.
Bacon believes college football is one of the remaining staples keeping us together, and our intense passion for our favorite teams is intertwined with their histories. According to Bacon, NFL teams “have no cultures,” and players go to the highest bidder rather than a senior in high school who chooses the school they love.
Another example is how the Wisconsin Badgers’ current football stadium, Camp Randall Stadium, was a Union Army training camp during the Civil War. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions have changed stadiums three times in the last 76 years, so their field lacks sentimental value.
One of Bacon’s main talking points this Friday will be his distress over the commercialization of college football.
“The biggest scandal is greed,” Bacon said. “If there’s anything that’s going to bring it down, it’s not going to be a student athlete and it’s not going to be the fans; it’s going to be the greed of those who realized how much money is to be made from this institution.”
Friday’s lecture will be held in Auditorium A of Angell Hall and is part of LSA’s Theme Semester, “Sport and the University.”