Blazer News 

Sports Commentary: JJC should return to the gridiron

Football discontinued at JJC in fall of 2011 due to significant budgetary concerns
By Elias Albert

Sports Commentary: JJC should return to the gridiron

Are you ready for some football? I know I am.

In the collegiate world, many elements come together to help create what we know as the college atmosphere. This can range from the laidback feeling of lounging around campus, and it can also be the sense of fulfillment one has when participating or attending student activities, sports and organizations.

And while education is unquestionably the top priority for college students, few other things have more influence and resonate higher with student’s lives than sports. And when it comes to sports, college football reigns supreme over all, creating a vibe that unites both the college and the community fan base.

But unfortunately, this vibe is incomplete without a JJC football program.

We used to have a National Championship winning team, but a November 2011 board vote discontinued the team with the consensus that the program cost more than it was worth.

The reason behind this is completely understandable.

The average annual cost of the football was placed at $476,000, which after three years of inflation, would be even more costly. One should also note that this event also occurred at the tail end of an economic recession and was a direct result of imperative budget cuts.

When the Blazer reported on the program cut back in November of 2011, Director of External Relations, Kelly Rohder said the rising costs of running the program contributed to the demise.

"What was helping to increase those costs was the traveling … with so few schools left in the state, we kept traveling further and further."

Not only does this bring up the cost of travel, but since there are fewer teams, this also means less competition which can both lead to less interest.

That being said, I believe JJC should have its own football program. I feel this way because for one, it’d give underprivileged students more of a reason to attend college. It opens up an opportunity for some who may otherwise not want to continue school.

The average complete college football roster ranges between 80 and 90 players. Along with these players there are about 15 coaches and staff members. This not only opens up student opportunities but potential job opportunities for people with football backgrounds.

JJC’s Board of Trustees has long been proposing a multi-purpose facility that would be used for events like business conventions and for JJC graduation ceremonies. By adding a football team to the JJC list of activities, the team could potentially use this facility as a home field. It would make the construction of this facility seem more logical.

Outside of the interest of students and school, the community would be influenced by a football program because few things build a sense of connection quite like the way the way the football does.

Participation in sports gives students, especially those in less-fortunate circumstances, greater incentive to attend college and receive a decent education when they otherwise would not.

Add in the slight chance and advancing to the pros only drives the interest for them even higher. It’s a long shot, but we have had students make it to the NFL: Rob Ninkovich; Jeris Pendleton; and current Chicago Bear Kelvin Hayden.

With the Chicago Bears up north and three major college teams in our state, there is no doubt that football has a presence, and this love of football takes no exception when it comes to our community.

Clearly football is relevant here, why would JJC football be a bad idea?

I know that the community would love and support a JJC football program once again. So, this time around, to guarantee stable funding, the college should consider more advertising options.

By opening up more possibilities for sponsorships and grants from local companies big and small, there’s no telling how much the football program could succeed.

Considering that the cost of funding lead to its ultimate demise, now there are possible solutions to that problem, particularly if the team does well.

As far as the teams need to be a competitive contender, it should be easy to find decent talent. With two Chicago Catholic League teams as well as numerous public school powerhouses, talent is definitely available in the area.

With all of this together, there is still the genuine love for football. I am a firm football fan. There is nothing that comes close to the way I feel about the sport. At any level of it, I am entertained.

And I do not feel alone in my admiration of the game; it’s hard to find anyone who do not share this sentiment on some level.

Reinstating the football program, in my opinion, would increase the college’s relevance greatly; because while overall enrollment is still strong, it has plateaued over the past couple years, falling short of the Board’s expectations.

Football on campus may very well be the shot in the arm that drives enrollment higher and into comfortable financial margins.

And I’m not advocating that the program should reach for the level of success that Notre Dame, Texas, or even Northern Illinois, but a strong program would undoubtedly benefit the college as a whole.

Granted, the program should not be reinstated at the expense of other campus clubs, sports or activities.

I’m in favor of expanding and adding programs across the board, for women’s sports, student clubs, the arts and academic organizations; all of which could be feasible by utilizing the revenue generated from a successful football program.

Despite the obstacles going against my case, I still stand by my belief that JJC should have a football program.


© 2012 Joliet Junior College

Joliet Junior College
1215 Houbolt Road, Joliet, IL 60431-8938
Phone: (815) 729-9020