By Robert T. Burns
College football is for passionate fans that care deeply about the teams they cheer for. As fans, we tend to look at wins, losses and player statistics, and forget the commitment and hard work that it takes to play at such a high level. It is important to be aware of the amount of time that college football players spend working to accomplish their goals, both during and after the season.
“The time commitment was extraordinary, and it was pretty much year-round,” says Kyle Smith, a former linebacker for Michigan State University who earned his varsity letter by playing special teams. “The NCAA regulates the time you can spend working with coaches,” explains Smith. “As players, we came in often on our own to put in even more time and work.”
As fans, we want nothing more than for our team to be successful. It is important to remember what players endure on a weekly basis, and the amount of pressure these athletes are under when school gets under way.
“Balance is the keyword, because during the season, we have film, meetings, lifting, practice, and classes,” explains Smith.
Players are driven because they are playing not just for themselves or the fans, but for the rest of the guys on the team, who they consider part of their family.
”The things I miss most are definitely practicing and working out with my buddies,” says Smith.
Smith says some of the other things he misses about playing for the Spartans is what happened behind the scenes leading up to a game.
“Staying in the team hotel the night before a game, going through pregame preparations and walking to the stadium with fans lined up waiting,” says Smith. “Hanging out and getting ready in the locker room, walking down the tunnel, and finally running into the stadium among a packed Spartan Stadium.”
Playing football at Michigan State gave Smith an opportunity to earn a degree, live a dream of his, learn valuable life lessons and create unforgettable memories. He had the chance to play against Ohio State in The Horseshoe. He travelled to Happy Valley to take on Penn State. He visited South Bend and Notre Dame to fight the Irish. He got to play against the likes of Mathew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Jahvid Best and LeSean McCoy. He considers himself a “Spartan for life.”
College football players give us amazing memories and entertainment. As fans, make sure that we do not forget the time, energy and commitment required to play the game that we so love to watch.