Norman Chad, writer for the Washington Post or probably more famously known to ESPN viewers as 1/2 of the World Series of Poker commentating team, had a column titled “It should be schools of thought, not football”.
In the article he praises Northeastern University for disbanding it’s football team and wishes that his alma mater (University of Maryland) would do the same.
“College football has absolutely nothing to do with college — this is unofficially the 783rd time I’ve said this. It is a business in which athletes posing as students wear school colors for the sake of alumni gratification and TV money. “
Pretty strong feelings about collegiate athletics, especially football.
Today, ESPN reported that Michigan State University was suspending 8 players for their involvement in a fight that took place in one of MSU’s residence halls. The incident took place on 11/22 during an event sponsored by Iota Phi Theta fraternity – which happened to have a fight at another sponsored event the previous night at a club near the campus.
These two incidents made me wonder what purpose athletics really offer higher education. As a Higher Ed Professional with an undergrad degree in Sports Management (I also did a couple of internships & jobs in sports), here’s my attempt at coming up with some pros & cons.
Pro: School Spirit & Pride – Athletics is the perfect venue to encourage school pride. People are competitive and love to brag that their school is better than someone else’s. This happens already – it’s called the US News & World Report’s College Rankings. How about Playboy’s party rankings? (Not that I’d like a school I work at to be on that).
Con: Allocation of resources – Sports are not cheap. There are so many costs associated with maintaining an athletic program: coaches, admin staff, trainers, uniforms, facilities, travel, marketing, & last but not least scholarships (if applicable – i.e. D-III schools don’t give out athletic scholarships).
Pros: Provides a opportunity for an education that otherwise might now happen for some student athletes. These students then go on to contribute in a variety of professions that don’t involve sports.
Cons: Think millennials are entitled? Try interacting with student-athletes that are either a) the star player, b) play a high-profile sport (i.e. football & basketball), or c) both? I’m generalizing but based on my experiences (I used to work at a Pac-10 school for 4 years) they can be challenging.
Some more ideas come to mind but I’d love to hear what others think.