The Minnesota Golden Gophers are going to a bowl game. Sure, they didn’t have the “win-loss” record (5-7) to get there on the merits of their season on the field.  

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They got the last opening to play in a bowl because of their work in the classroom and because another team with an under achieving record lost their last game on Saturday.  And a portion of the fanbase is “up in arms mad”.  

It’s not been the type of year, or last few years, that Minnesota fans wanted, but I think it’s safe to say that the players and coaches had higher expectations too. But why is it so bad that the players get to go to a bowl? Afterall, they’re the one in the classroom and on the field, and the focus should really be on them, right?  

Minnesota v Iowa
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A lot of fans forget about the “student” title in “student athlete”. I’ve spent enough time with student athletes to know that they don’t have as much time on their hands as most people think. I’ve seen them study on buses, airplanes, airports, hotels and while eating dinner just to stay on top of their classwork. 

So, for this team to have handled their business in the classroom while not having as good of a year as they would have liked, speaks a lot about the kind of people these players are.  

But some fans as so spoiled that all that matters is if the team does what they want. To see fans take to social media and say things like “it’s a participation trophy” or “they don’t deserve to be there so I’m not watching” bothers me because what matters the most outside of the health of the players is their education.  

Michigan State v Minnesota
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And when they get rewarded for doing well in class, better than a lot of teams, some fans don’t have pride in that. What I’ve learned in my experience is that fans that complain the loudest, give the least. Oh, they may buy a few hats or T-Shirts or go to a game or two, but most don’t give to the athletic booster clubs or to support the Name, Image, Likeness efforts which help attract the best possible players.  I’ll stop there, but that could be a post for another day.  

But let’s move past that for a moment, if you are a true fan who wants the team to do better next year, then that starts with the practices that will be held for this Bowl Game. As happens every year, there will be players who choose not to play in the bowl or to transfer from the team which creates opportunities for younger players to get more reps in practice and possibly even “Live-Fire” game reps.  

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: AUG 31 Nebraska at Minnesota
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The time spent over the next several weeks will be invaluable to some players who will be called on next season to play a much bigger role. One would think that fans would want next year's team as comfortable with the speed of the game and the overall game plan as possible.  

Very few people get to see behind the curtain to all the sacrifices college athletes make. I’m not just talking about football players, but every team on a college campus, both male and female. These athletes find themselves in a similar territory, and no one wants to win games more than them.  

Minnesota v Maryland
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The University of Minnesota softball team defeated Georgia 8-1 in a NCAA regional final.
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COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAR 04 Cambria College Classic - Ole Miss vs Minnesota
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So why is it so hard to celebrate all their victories, both in the classroom and their chosen sport? This past season can’t be changed, but what happens in the future can be impacted by what happens over the next few weeks.  

Here's a Look at Olympic Athletes from Central Minnesota

 

 

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