In the recent past, many college football fans only got to see their teams on TV a few select times each year. But in the sports-saturated era that we live in, just about every sporting event imaginable seems to find its way to the television.
High school sports were never shown on TV in the recent past, excluding local teams on local TV of course, but now networks like ESPN and some Fox Sports channels show high schools sports with a fair amount of regularity. Top college prospects’ biggest games are often shown, as was the case with players like Sam McGuffie and Terrelle Pryor this year among other big-time college football stars.
One other event that has grown in stature and viewership over the past 5 years or so is the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a high school football All-Star Showcase in San Antonio, Texas that has gathered a pretty nice following among diehard college football fans. Unlike other all-star games in other sports that are more of a cap on the season that just concluded, the U.S. Army All-American Bowl focuses on the future as fans of top colleges get to see their future stars for the first time. It was a concept that grew from the success of the McDonald’s High School All-American basketball game and the great deal of success that game has achieved and has featured big stars in recent years like Ted Ginn, Jr. and Reggie Bush. During the game, many top players also decide on live TV which college they’re going to attend by picking a hat off of a table, making some dramatic moments for fans.
Everything was going well with the Army game, until ESPN showed up and tried to squeeze into NBC’s territory with its Under Armour All-Star Game. ESPN was able to sneak 24 of the top 100 prospects in the nation into its game including breakout wide receiver star Julio Jones among others, and they held the game on the same day (January 5th, 2008) within a couple hours of each other. ESPN even refuses to mention in its own recruiting coverage that players participated in the U.S. Army Bowl, instead saying things like the players did well in an All-Star game without mentioning the Army Bowl by name.
Will these two bowls be able to co-exist in the future? Probably, because football features 22 players on the field at once so there are a lot more top-notch prospects to go around as compared to basketball, and basketball also has multiple All-Star games besides the more popular McDonald’s one. The Army game gets most of the top prospects right now but with the backing of the popular franchises ESPN and Under Armour, the Under Armour game just might be some tough competition and might rise to the top spot in the coming years. At any rate, the Army game should also continue to be successful, and fans of college football should be happy to sit down and watch both games assuming their team has players in either of them.