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Bowl Games Matter

By BJ Bennett
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Though there are more bowl games than ever, the full scope is one we don't always see.

Visiting hospitals during my bowl trips helped inspire me to work with a lot of non profit groups.
~Ben Troupe

In some ways, a trip to the postseason might not be quite what it used to be. With 40 bowl games, in addition to the national championship, some prestige has arguably been lost to the process. There are traditions that, quite frankly, have faded with time, now mere memories instead of motivation. Just because the postseason has changed, however, doesn't mean its value is all gone. Though there are more bowl games than ever, the full scope is one we don't always see.

Not just the reward of an bonus game for the efforts of a good, or admittedly, sometimes average, year, a postseason trip is an important extension of the student-athlete experience. Competition, in many instances, is only the grand finale of a multi-day, multi-dimensional event. Memories go well beyond any ten-yard measure, with activities that highlight the core essence of what college football is ultimately all about. This is a game that, even still, teaches more than it tallies.

Bowl outings mix together media engagement, philanthropy, social bonding and travel, all with, most times, a cross-country clash pairing programs that wouldn't otherwise meet. The national exposure is valuable for the program, yes, but also the players, especially those who haven't experienced such a showcase before. There is also the swag; and good for the student-athletes to get some well-deserved gifts over the holiday season.   

The idea of college expanding the horizons of those attending is one that is exemplified, in college football, through December and January each year.

Postseason pairings take participants all over, including, often, back to when it all began. 

"The best part about my bowl experience was traveling. I grew up poor and never saw much outside of my neighborhood until football opened those doors for me," explained Tyson Browning, former Georgia running back. "My first bowl was the Sugar Bowl against Florida State. I grew up a Florida State fan, to play them in my first bowl was a dream come true."

Regardless of matchup or magnitude, the benefits of a bonus game are wide-reaching. Platforms, remember, aren't just limited to a stadium setting. The postseason brings people together, serving a very real role in a very special time of year. This is where a football game, and the framework around it, intertwine like a red-ribboned wreath. 

What players do can help shape who they become.

"Visiting hospitals during my bowl trips helped inspire me to work with a lot of non profit groups," explained former Florida tight end Ben Troupe, who still volunteers and contributes as an inspirational speaker to this day. "It's important for these student-athletes to give back to the people that cheer and root them on."

On the field, postseason play comes with a special showcase where the lights are the absolute brightest. Vince Young to Deshaun Watson, the big stage brings out the best in stars, with reputations settling into the record books. Amber, gold and violet give way to Orange, Peach and Rose as winter transitions from fall; trees to trophies, these are the shades that sharpen this season. These colors don't fade.  

History has a home here. Bowl games, every year, come like cousins on Christmas; we complain about there being too many of them, but we still open all of the presents.    

For fans and players alike, bowl performances can serve as monumental moments on both personal and program timelines. Georgia State, for example, recently won the school's first-ever postseason game at the Cure Bowl in Orlando, an event that just raised a remarkable $3.3 million for breast cancer research. The winning reaction was a powerful one. Though a national title wasn't on the line, the finish to the evening had its own unique emotion. 

"To be part of this, making history, first bowl win ever...I couldn't be prouder," added Panther quarterback Connor Manning.

Results are those that people remember, stories still shared years after the fact. Most importantly, what the postseason does is help bring the big picture into focus. Communities are impacted, horizons are expanded and memories are made, shaping a spectrum longer than merely 100 yards. Not only do we still watch all of the extra games, we, even if we don't know it, continue to see their influence as well.  

The format isn't without flaws, maybe there are a few too many on the schedule and a losing team probably shouldn't advance, but bowl games matter. They aren't just good for college football, they help define it.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports