Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Column: Why the return of the College Football franchise is more than just a video game

February 6, 2021
Photo of EA's NCAA Football 14
Photo of EA's NCAA Football 14 —
Photo by Elijah McKown | The State News

I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time.

It’s been almost eight years since the last time my mom drove me to the store so I could buy the newest NCAA Football video game. Since it usually came out around my birthday, that was what I typically wanted every year.

Flash forward to now, my roommates come running up the stairs and knock on my door asking me if I’m going to hop on Call of Duty’s Warzone and get beat by an 8-year-old who plays the game more than I do.

“Nah, I’m good, I’ve got some work to do.”

Instead of working on the endless assignments I need to do, I turn to my right and pick up my controller to turn on my Xbox 360 to see if I can lead Akron to a national title.

The EA NCAA Football video game franchise came to a halt as the NCAA and EA were criticized and sued over using athletes' names, image and likeness without giving any compensation to do so.

Now after eight years of its absence, enough work has been done to bring it back.

When I opened Twitter and saw the news, I couldn’t help but yell out in excitement.

I reverted back to my 14-year-old self for a few moments and immediately began to calculate how much money I would have to save from my small student journalist paycheck each week to be able to buy the new console and game by this summer.

For me, this game was more than a game, it was a hobby. It was the way I connected with my friends when we spent the night at each other's houses and played mascot mashup at 2 a.m. on a Friday night. It’s what cemented my love for the game of football. It’s what taught a scrawny, short little kid like me how to play football and how the game works, which is probably why I get excited when I see teams run the triple-option in college football.

This game series was my childhood.

It was also the game that I reverted back to when I was down about something as I continued on in life during quarantine with limited internet at home as I led Boston College to eight straight national titles.

I loved the game enough that I even convinced my editor in the fall of last year to let me interview people at the Minskoff pavilion about the game.

The game’s release also marks another step in finally getting college athletes what they deserve in compensation for their name, image and likeness. While the game will not include the likeness of players from the get-go according to an ESPN report, it’s likely that when the NIL issue is finally resolved, they will be included in the game.

The athletes have been taken advantage of by the NCAA, the schools and the organizations that profit off of their play as they remain without a penny for their talents. A college student like me can write and profit off of the things I write about the athletes, but they cannot for the entertainment they produce outside of a scholarship.

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With new legislation and games like these resurfacing, the end is finally in sight for the college athletes who simply just want to be able to profit off of their own abilities.

This moment marks a milestone for all the athletes and kids alike from my age group. The athletes who grew up playing the game can hopefully see themselves in the game and play as themselves as they dreamed of doing like I did as a kid.

This game for all the kids who grew up in the 1990’s and 2000’s, hoping that they would be the next one on the cover, means more than just video games, it’s bringing back all the moments of our childhood that meant so much to all of us.

While it may seem silly for me to have this kind of reaction to a video game as someone who is in many ways an adult, the kid in me can’t help but jump for joy.

By the time this game releases, I’ll likely be 21 years old or older, in college, covering Michigan State athletics, in a long-term relationship and can buy his own alcohol. But when the game does release, it will be just like when my mom last drove me to GameStop nearly eight years ago.

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