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At Super Bowl, bogus PR about players' college graduation

The half-truth show at Super Bowl: players' college degrees – or not.

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One announcement you won’t hear at this year’s Super Bowl: “Starting at linebacker, 20 credit hours short of a degree from the University of....”

Too bad. Because the upcoming Colts-Saints clash is not just a great opportunity to advertise products, it’s also a rare chance to promote a real game changer: reform of big-time college sports.

Instead of introducing starting lineups by their college affiliations (you know, those cute spots where the player mumbles the name of what we assume is his alma mater), how about some long overdue candor?

When a player has actually earned his degree, state it: “a graduate of.” If a player has only partially fulfilled the requirements for a diploma, spell it out as one would on any honest résumé. If the amount of completed course work was too slight to mention, say nothing.

Those invested in the myth of college football as an emblem of virtuous competition will scoff at this suggestion. It’s just nit-picking, they’ll contend. No harm, no foul.

But there’s a less charitable view of college football and its escalating excesses. An unholy alliance has developed between the National Football League and what is effectively its farm system, NCAA Division 1 college football. And the small deception in touting college affiliations is the glue that holds it together.

According to NFL officials, about half of the current players have earned a college degree. That is not an unimpressive statistic; it’s just a whole lot less than the casual viewer is led to believe based on sportscaster patter concerning where the various players went to school.

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