The last time I was in the University of Washington football stadium, it was a bright sunny Saturday in 2017 when the Huskies crushed the UCLA Bruins. The last time I attended a live sporting event was sometime last year when I saw the Seattle Seawolves rugby team in action.

Those two sporting events come to mind in light of the current panic in the Pac-12 following the announcement that UCLA and USC will soon jump to a different football conference.

The two universities located in the mega media market of Southern California have determined that they can haul in far more money from cable television deals by abandoning the West Coast teams against whom they have competed for more than a century. They will accomplish this by joining the more competitive and much more lucrative collection of teams in the Big Ten. That has left the University of Washington pondering a stark choice: Should the Huskies stay in the diminished Pac-12, thus reducing both revenue and the chances of competing for a national football championship, or should they jump to one of the other conferences to grab a bigger payday while forsaking the hallowed history of cross-state competition with the Washington State Cougars?

Actually, the dilemma for the UW is even more complex than that, and I cannot claim to know what the best path may be. What I do know is that the allure of college sports, and sports in general, has been increasingly eroded, decade after decade, by the power of profit. It is not about just a game anymore. It is not about hometown loyalties. It is not about traditional rivalries. It is about money.

And that gets me back to that triumph over UCLA in 2017. Season to season, though there are always ups and downs, the Huskies can match the Bruins and the Trojans on the field. Seattle, however, cannot match the Los Angeles media market. That is why it is USC and UCLA that are attractive to the cable sports channels, not the UW.

And then there are the Seawolves. Our local major-league rugby team plays in a small stadium in Tukwila. Crowds are enthusiastic and tickets are cheap. None of the players are millionaires, but they play well and they play hard. Attending one of their matches is a window into what sports were like 100 years ago. Once upon a time, it was more about the game than the money but, unless you are a rugby fan, that fantasy is long gone.

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