It's that time of year again. No, not Fall, but the time where every other campus enmeshes itself in the pageantry and crass commercialism of college football. Anyone who has been near the site of Tennessee-Auburn on a gameday or driven past Ohio State's stadium on any day knows how college football looms large over the land. Xavier, however, doesn't have a team. That's going to lead to you taking a lot of grief from your friends and family member who worship at the altar of CTE (see #4). Here's how to respond.
1. "And thank God for that."
As we covered last week, Xavier not having football is actually good for Xavier basketball. Xavier's football program shut up shop in 1973 and club football petered out in 2013. Xavier is a basketball school, and an excellent one. More than that, Xavier is a small school that consistently batters the Power 5. With limited funding available, Xavier still tears apart the supposed big boys. Trying to spread resources over to football would just stretch the university thin. Thank the Good Lord they don't.
2. "We do have football."
Say this, and then proceed to talk about soccer. Yes, it's going to make you sound really pretentious, but that's not always a bad thing. Besides, Xavier's soccer team is really good. They started the season ranked #10 in the nation, beat Indiana to make the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament last year, and set a school record for wins. Not only that, the student cheering section is as loud and energetic as you'd expect from soccer, I'm sorry, real football, fans.
3. "Well your team sucks."
I'll admit, this one is not really raising the level of discourse. However, if you're talking to a fan in the state of Ohio who hasn't somehow front-runnered his way onto the Buckeye bandwagon, it's a legitimate point. The MAC is no good, UC is laughable and plays in a second tier conference, and there's also Youngstown State. Xavier may not have football, but surely that beats watching guys who are sucking down valuable scholarship money get waxed every week, right? (Apologies, of course, to the Bearcats, who were able to down mighty Alabama A&M this week. Great job, guys!)
4. "Of course not, we value physical and mental health."
This one is going to strike a nerve, but it's true. Recently retired San Francisco 49er Chris Borland estimates he suffered over 30 concussions in his playing career. Borland retired after one season in the NFL. Every week, millions of people cheer and implore their 18 and 19 year old heroes to do more grievous bodily harm to one another. Concussion, CTE, and brain damage awareness is on the rise, but not to the point where college football doesn't glorify 300 pound athletes slamming their heads together 80 times per game. Football is a gladiators sport that doesn't make men, it makes cripples. It's a bit alarming frankly, and it gives you a chance to get way up on that moral high horse in this argument.
5. "Talk to me in March."
Who is taunting you? Is it someone from Ohio again? Well, congratulations, your basketball team is better than theirs. Is it someone from the Big East other than Villanova? You've beaten them in regular season play and gone farther in the tournament recently. Is it someone from the AAC? Pull out KenPom and start scrolling down. Tell them to stop when they see an AAC team. Bring a drink, this may take awhile. Is it a UK fan? That's your own fault. Why are you associating with that person? Most importantly is it a UC fan that is going to launch into some idiotic diatribe about history? Take only what both you have actually been alive for. Xavier's better. Anyone who wants to clown about their might football team is more than welcome to come join you on the couch come March for the greatest sporting event in the world, odds are their calendar is open.