College football photo courtesy Jamie Rhodes USA TODAY Sports. NFL Courtesy of Getty images Jim Rogach. NCAA Basketball Courtesy of Getty images John W. McDonough. NBA Courtesy of Brian Babineau National Basketball Association.
There has been a debate over the years of Which is better, College Sports or Pro sports. Two sports are usually the center of this debate Football and Basketball. Those on either side claim steadfastly and unequivocally that their sport is better.
College football has the pageantry of the marching bands, cheerleaders, and dance squads. Student sections that are loud and proud. The teams play for pride and bragging rights.
The NFL has cheerleaders and some half-time entertainment. The players came out and attended to the business at hand. An element of the fan base is filled with enthusiasm, such as the Dog Pound in Cleveland or the fans in the end zone at Green Bay waiting for the Lambeau leap. There are, of course, the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.
However, for the most part, NFL fans seem to wait for the big plays to get excited.
Dog Pound Lambeau leap Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders
Courtesy blogspot.com Courtesy Green Bay Packers Courtesy Getty Images
In Basketball again, the college has the pep band and the student section, which creates a festive atmosphere. The fans are there to see the team. Noise and fun are the name of the game.
There is no pep band, just loud piped-in music, no real section of crazed fans in the NBA. Some teams do have a more involved fan base than others. However, in the Pro ranks, the crowds show when the team wins. Some teams also have a little pregame magic, like the Chicago Bulls introductions of the lineup.
For me, I like BOTH pro and college football equally. They both have similar elements. A football fan is just that a football fan. Whether it is Saturday or Sunday, you will find fans there the night before getting as much tailgating in as they can. In terms of fans and the interaction during games. Tailgaters from opposing teams engaging in good-natured banter as they share a brat or burger and a cold drink or two. Some will plan months in advance. (been there done that) I enjoy the a-fore mentioned pageantry of a college game as the marching band takes the field in pregame and halftime.
A pro game may not have the pageantry, but there is a certain feeling during the game. One of watching the very best athletes play at that level. While playing at a higher level of expertise, the pro game is generally not that much faster than the college game. You can point to a college player and almost know if he can make the pro ranks in some form or fashion. You can imagine a college Linebacker or Quarterback with a Cowboys jersey or a Raiders jersey. Football, in general, is an event. It is not just a game!
As for basketball, I like the College game. Of course, the atmosphere, the pep band, cheerleaders, and the student section are good reasons. More importantly, though, it is the level of intensity and teamwork at the college level. It seems so much more prevalent to me than in the pro game. It looks like the teams are more involved at the college level. In the pros, it is all about the stars. If LeBron doesn't get 30 points, the team did poorly whether they win or not. Some teams play a TEAM game and do it well. (the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks of the 90s come to mind) However, by in large, the NBA game is focused on one or two players per team in a game. I call it the "Prima Dona" syndrome. There are guys that desire to get their way and be the focus of attention.
Now the NBA I grew up on was Dave Debusschere, John Havlicek, Bill Russell, Willis Reed, and Jo Jo White. Passing the ball to an open teammate was better than forcing a shot because the star was expected to. You had superstars, but the focus was on the team. The Celtics of the 70s and 80s are a prime example of that. You had big-name stars (White, Bird, Parish, McHale, Maxwell, Cowens), but the whole team was involved.
Pro fans seem more focused on the "Alpha Dog" than the team. Now there are star players in college that fans like to watch, but the focus is on the team. They come to see the precision of Duke running Coach K's offense. The discipline of a John Wooden coached team. As an Illinois fan watching Lou Henson's Flying Illini in 1989, it was the unselfish play and teamwork. Today you have teams like Gonzaga, Missouri, and Michigan who have leaders but are better known for the team effort they put forth. Watching NBA, You watch LeBron, or Stephan Curry, Russell Westbrook, or James Harden. You don't watch the Bulls play or the Celtics.
The debate will never be decided. You will always those on both sides, and that is the way it should be. Each game has its draw or lure of excitement that draws fans. They still have and always will. Each year, millions of people will go to an arena, stadium in a college town, or pro city. They will pay their money and watch the game they like. As sports fans, isn't that what it is all about?
Those are my thoughts. What's yours?