When summer ends, it is almost time for the yearly college football season to start. For Jack Elway, this has always been the most exciting time of the year. It is a time for families to come together and to celebrate the new school year. But what is the history of this sport, and where does it stand today?
Jack Elway on the History of College Football
In 1875, Harvard, Yale, and Columbia started to look into developing a college football league. Then, in 1876, the crossbar was added to the game. The field was also a whole lot larger than today’s field. In 1876, however, the size of the field was made smaller, turning it into the size we are familiar with today. Football didn’t become popular very quickly. In fact, it wasn’t until some ten or so years later that the game really started to gather attention. By the start of the 20th century, however, the sport had took off. Indeed, some 250 colleges had signed up to play.
By the 21st century, there were 230 different divisions, being division I, II, and III. Other division also exist, and this means that there are some 1,000 teams in total. Usually, each team plays between 12 and 14 games per season, depending on how well they have done. The industry, meanwhile, is huge. Millions of dollars are raised, but none of the players are paid a salary. Some colleges have come to rely on sponsorship money for the teams so much, that they couldn’t stay open without it.
Naturally, college football wouldn’t be the same without the fans. They are the biggest source of revenue as well. Fan loyalty is huge and they will attend any game they can get to. Fans buy the jerseys, hats, t-shirts, coffee cups, and other merchandise to tell the world who they support. In many cases, fans are ex-players themselves and most are also alumni from that particular college or university. It is a family affair, with many people of the same family supporting the same team.
Some of the top teams in the country bring in about a million dollars a year. This is made up of contributions, sponsorship deals, ticket sales, and merchandise sales. Clearly, therefore, colleges continue to function on this revenue, using it to improve their overall educational attainment as well. One big part of this is travel. College players have to be able to travel in order to play all those games that are not at home. Each year, they are part of the National Football League, and they hope to make it to the top. Players want to travel in comfort and style as well, and this is driving big business.
There is something unique about college football. These are players that genuinely do it for the love of their school, their team, and they community. It is not uncommon to see three generations of people celebrating the winnings of one team together, wearing their various vintage jerseys.