Posted by Adam Jacobi
I-AA football teams rarely make headlines, and when they do, it's often for negative reasons: Troubled Player X transfers to I-AA School X, Troubled Player X gets in more trouble at I-AA School X, and/or I-AA School X nailed for NCAA violations. That's not to say I-AA schools are inherently more prone to trouble or in any way sketchier than their I-A counterparts, mind you, just that I-AA schools have a tougher road to making headlines that lots of college football fans would care about.
So when news came out this week that the Drake Bulldogs would be travelling to Tanzania to play the first American football game on the continent of Africa, obviously, ears perked up, and rightfully so. The Global Kilimanjaro Bowl is the first game in Africa, after all, and they're bringing a Mexican all-star team with them. Both newsworthy items.
What's more, though, Drake and the all-star team are also hosting a football clinic for local youth there, working at an orphanage, and constructing an addition to that orphanage before the game. They're also finishing the trip by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro as teams, which seems both awesome and completely insane.
But let's set aside the mountain climbing and think about the charitable works. Take the Drake football team--or any other non-scholarship I-AA school, for that matter; it's not important that it's specifically Drake. Suppose our old friend I-AA School X goes to Tanzania, but doesn't schedule a football game. Everything else stays the same, there's still the clinic and the orphanage, there's just no Global Kilimanjaro Bowl. Does I-AA School X still make the news? Is the landmark football game necessary to draw attention to their good deeds? Should it be?