Wikipedia:WikiProject College football/Amateur

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Believe it or not, this argument is made from time to time. An editor will claim that because the National Football League (NFL) exists, the first point in WP:ATHLETE then negates the second point in the same section, that "(c)ompetitors who have competed at the highest level in amateur sports" would also be notable.

However, a cursory review will reveal that the section does not have a disclaimer of any kind. Also, even the most brief review of the guideline would reveal the "disqualification" argument to be flawed and not in line with the text of the rest of the guideline.

The existence of the NFL does not negate the notability of college football.

Historical perspective[edit]

First professional player[edit]

College football significantly predates professional football and was the driving force in the evolution—and growth in popularity—of the sport. The first college football game took place on November 6, 1869 between Rutgers and Princeton. The first "professional athlete" on record was 23 years later, when William "Pudge" Heffelfinger was paid $500 by the Allegheny Athletic Association for one game in 1892.[1]

First successful professional league[edit]

The world saw 51 years of active college football play before the American Professional Football Association (the first successful professional league) would be formed with the first fully professional game played October 3, 1920. Two years, later, the APFA changed its name to the National Football League (NFL).

Early years of the NFL[edit]

In its first several decades, the NFL was not financially stable. Between 1920 and 1945, 53 teams had gone defunct.[2]

Even as professional football began to grow into its own, the significance of the sport remained relatively low. One observer put it this way: "Back then (1958), pro football was not to be confused with a real job"[3] It was not until at least the 1960s that professional football began to be seen as a viable career path in and of itself. Therefore, in the sport's first century of existence, most of football's best players never pursued professional playing careers.


As of the 2008 season, college football has been around for 139 years while the NFL has existed a mere 88 years. It was not until the modern era in the 1970s and 1980s that solidified professional football as America's top spectator sport.

Financial perspective[edit]

American college football[edit]

  • A top-level college football program makes significant revenue: [4]
  • Texas: $60.9 million
  • Michigan: $50.4 million
  • Florida: $48.2 million
  • Forbes calculated the Notre Dame football program to be worth $91 million in 2007.[5]
  • Ten college football programs earned at least $45 million in 2006.[6]
  • The 44 schools from BCS conferences that played in a bowl game in 2007 had combined revenue of $1.3 billion.[7]
  • During the 2007-2008 reporting year, the University of Texas athletics program was the most lucrative, drawing a total of over $120 million.[8]

Professional sports[edit]

  • Professional basketball: The Euroleague has a combined annual revenue of less than $100 million.[9]
  • German soccer: The top-tier league, the Bundesliga, had 2006–07 revenues of €1.3 billion ($1.7 billion).[10]
  • English soccer:
  • The first-tier Premier League is obviously a major league with exceptionally high revenue, €2.2 billion ($2.8 billion).[10]
  • The second-tier The Championship 2005–06 revenues were £318 million ($470 million), an average of £13 million ($20 million) per club.[11]
  • The third-tier League One for the same year totaled £102 million.[11]
  • And the fourth-tier League Two £61 million.[11]

Media exposure perspective[edit]

  • The NCAA has a $6.2 billion, 11-year media contract.[12]
  • 14.4 - 2008 NCAA Football Championship game[13]
  • 17.4 - 2007 NCAA Football Championship game
  • 8.4 - 2008 MLB World Series avg rating [14]
  • 10.4 - 2008 NBA Finals Game One[15]


  1. ^ Pro Football Hall of Fame "Professional Football Birth Certificate"
  2. ^ Hickok, Ralph (2004). "NFL Franchise Chronology". Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  3. ^ Namath: A Biography Mark Kriegel, Penguin Press, 2005
  4. ^ Who makes, who spends, The Oklahoman, November 7, 2007.
  5. ^ The most valuable college football teams, Forbes Magazine, MSNBC, January 2, 2007.
  6. ^ College football teams getting filthy rich, Forbes Magazine, MSNBC, November 21, 2007.
  7. ^ Ohio State beats LSU, CNN Money, December 31, 2007.
  8. ^ How much revenue did your favorite Football Bowl Subdivision school take in in 2007-08? This chart will tell you, The Orlando Sentinel, July 28, 2009.
  9. ^ The glory of making the pilgrimage to NYC has its price, Haaretz, November 10, 2007.
  10. ^ a b Prudent Bundesliga pips EPL in profits, not revenue, ESPN, May 29, 2008.
  11. ^ a b c Analysis of 2007 Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance, The Political Economy of Football, June 2, 2007.
  12. ^ The business case: Seek middle ground, Champion Magazine, National Collegiate Athletic Association, Fall 2008.
  13. ^ 2008 BCS National Championship TV Ratings Down Sharply from Last Year, Sports Business Radio, January 8, 2008
  14. ^ MLB World Series Nielsen Ratings, TV By The Numbers, November 10, 2008.
  15. ^ NBA Finals Game One Earns 10.4 Overnight Nielsen Rating, Sports Business Daily, June 6, 2008.