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  • Writer's pictureStrictly Films

National Champions; Grade: C

National Champions tells a story headlining a College Football championship, as two extremely great teams will face each other off in this epic conclusion of the College Football season. However: The star quarterback LeMarcus James (Stephan James) whom is bound to be the number one pick in the upcoming NFL draft, whom is poised to be the next greatest Quarterback since Patrick Mahomes is boycotting the game. LeMarcus James is taking a stand against the NCAA whom have profited billions of dollars off collegiate football alone for quite some time, as the players themselves do not receive a dime of that money, nor can they profit off their name in reference to sponsors and such. LeMarcus James is hopeful him sitting out for this game, will help influence players to take a stand, as well as NCAA changing course so college players can get paid.

This situation involving college athletes mainly football/basketball players getting paid for playing the sport, has been a debate for quite sometime. The debate can be understandable upon both sides. You understand why people would be for it, while having a full ride scholarship is beyond generous (Tuition for college is comparable to a scam) however being a college athlete is like having a full time job, as a fair amount of these kids come from a not so privileged background so they need to eat and giving them a reasonable amount for food and such wouldn’t hurt. You understand why people wouldn’t be for it, recruiting players then would become a full out bidding war as the smaller schools such as the MAC wouldn’t have a fair chance to gain any recruits, plus not every school brings in a lot of money as well so those schools will suffer greatly and potentially lose out on having sports programs. With the NCAA granting players to receive money off their likeness just this year, though it’s a major W for college players, however the bidding war assumption people were afraid of has already begun… The number one prospect out of High School chose a low market school not because his intentions was to bring a national title to that school, but more so because he’s bound to make millions choosing that team. I’m a fan of Barstool Sports, I’m a big fan of Dave Portnoy as he’s done a lot of terrific things the past couple years, and I’m a fan of Deion Sanders… But players going to schools solely for money, feels like it’s bound to have major consequences, but who knows if I would like to see anyone shake up the college sports world, it be Bartstool.

National Champions feels comparable to Draft Day and High Flying Bird, while the topic of discussion is surrounding sports, there is unfortunately no sports coverage to be found in those films. It’s taken place surrounding a sporting event, as it’s more so a drama. I’m pretty sure not many people know this film exists, there was honestly not much marketing surrounding this film, I mean there was no one in the theater other than myself so it makes a whole lot of sense despite it does have a nice cast. I say though the subject matter of National Champions can be interesting, to me I felt this was more suitable for streaming as the quality level t’was mediocre.

The meat of the story where I found it quite engaging is how when the lead quarterback LeMarcus James takes a stand against the NCAA, those whom are working in the NCAA do whatever it takes to tarnish LeMarcus’ name. LeMarcus appears to be a matured man whom is certainly not perfect, however seems like a decent kind man, that just wants to bring college kids a better opportunity so if they don’t make pro, they’ll have a nice safety net to fall back on. Even the people that work for the NCAA knows LeMarcus is a good dude, but since he’s going after their pockets… They’ll do whatever it takes to make LeMarcus look like a criminal or ruin his chance of going pro. It’s quite astonishing the lengths these people will take just because LeMarcus stands firmly on a stance he believes in, rather than just sit down and work this all out like adults, t’was truly a petty war on NCAA’s side.

There is also a grand sequence regarding Katherine’s (Uzo Aduba) stance against the matter, as a former college athlete she can not only understand LeMarcus but can also be against the matter. Let it be reminded that majority of the revenue is coming in from College Football and College Basketball which are both men, so if the players get paid, what happens to all the other college sports that don’t bring in much revenue?! What’ll happen is those programs will be wiped away, as Katherine pleads her case as why college players can’t be paid which brings up a great point. Not only are opportunities wiped away from the college athletes that are not associated with football or basketball, opportunities in going to college and getting a free education is also off the table as well.. There is a lot to it than just the players from both sports getting paid, you also have to think of the little guys.

While the story does have fairly interesting sequences, the story however can feel a bit boring some as also everything it’s leading up to doesn’t have an exciting conclusion. Sometimes you feel as everything it’s building itself up for, doesn’t really lead to anything as it just abruptly ends. I was hoping for an actual sports coverage sequence, pleading LeMarcus’ case that without your star players playing the game, your game can not succeed or be as exciting as it can be, as the players do truly make a major impact to your game. That’s what I was hoping for and it never takes it there, leaving a much unsatisfying ending. Visually it’s left to be desired, performances weren’t that great either. Definitely has it’s moments, however as a whole narrative it’s left to be desired, as you’ll soon forget about it over the course of time.

Overall, National Champions was just ok. I would wait till this film is available for rental. -Mitch Smietana

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