We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Big-time sports simply do not blend well with academic pursuits. Georgia Tech’s Richard DeMillo nailed that point when he wrote in this Pope Center article: “Sports programs are grafted onto universities to extract value from academic programs for the sake of the sports programs. Athletic decision-making cannot be trusted to align itself with academic goals when so many of the incentives are tied to the success of a non-core, big money operation that has virtually no relationship to academic outcomes.”
Is there any hope of escaping from the arms race for sports prestige?
Useless as it may be, it's too popular to go away.
I have always felt it was an unholy alliance, warping the purpose of the university for the sake of an artificial feeling of unity. Colleges use this feeling to create a sense of ongoing community, both for fundraising and because "community" is one of the things they are selling.
My stance may be softening a bit in light of recent college events, in which various groups are pitting themselves against each other. As social psychology research shows that people are less divided when they have common goals and activities (Hey, there's a surprise. Who saw that coming, eh?), the larger sports teams are one of the dwindling number of things a school can have in common.
It's all going to change, however, and there are a lot of moving parts: the move to online learning and the subsequent financial pressure on brick-and-mortar schools; concussion lawsuits; decreasing tolerance for academic fraud and even criminal behavior by athletes.
Anecdote: The quarterback for my high-school team in the 1970's went on to play for Williams College. As we were both longhaired suburban hippies when I ran into him again in the late 70's, I asked him why he had kept playing football (implied fascist, barbaric, lowbrow*). "It was the only place on campus where people were working together to accomplish something."
*I have repented and follow football again.
Assistant Village Idiot
IF they didn't have football games, when would college presidents be able to solicit that million dollar gift for the new wing of the Library or those labs for the Med School?
College football is also responsible for hundreds of other athletes in 'minor" sports being able to compete on a national or even international stage. There's a good reason the US always kicks ass in medaling during the Olympics : a solid foundation from collegiate sports.
As long as there has been college football, there has been hand-wringing over whether or not it is out of hand. See this 1933 movie as evidence that the same issues (pressure to recruit and win, cheating scandals, ethics, etc) are being raised today.
Though I LOVE college football, I admit that it is less about academics than it is about winning at all cost. Duh. But most fans think that it is only cheating if our rivals do it. Not true. It is only cheating if Oklahoma does it. True story.
That said, there won't be any reform of college sports. The interests are too entrenched and the fanbase too big. Also, there is a ton of money changing hands every year.
The bigtime colleges (Alabama, Texas, OU, USC, Ohio State types) make enough money from football to pay for the less-popular sports like swimming, softball, rowing, etc. So you could argue that despite taking money from academics at University of Houston, football at the big schools subsidizes the sports that might otherwise have to fold up or cut back without football's windfall. So it isn't all bad.
If we are cleaning up academia, though, let's start with a less controversial topic: hiring quotas for conservative professors until we have an ideological balance on campus that represents the balance of the population as a whole. So if 30% of Americans are conservative and %32 liberal, then fire liberal Sociology teachers and hire conservative ones until we get to the appropriate ratio on campus.
@Dean @Codger Football does not provde a windfall for other sports. Only a handful of college sports programs from elite conferences even run in the black. Given the way Title IX is administered the 90-100 male athletes on the football squad are a hindrance to offering other intercollegiate men's sports since they must be offset by the much smaller squads for women's sports.
Of course it does at the big schools, which was my point all along. At the smallest schools or even the less successful big ones, ALL sports lose money, even football.
Yes, Title IX makes football a target for cuts, but at the biggest schools football isn't going away. I think most Americans rightly see Title IX as activist government meddling trying to even out something that most of us couldn't care less about...until it interferes with our favorite sports. I think Title IX will be softened at some point in the future because of that public opinion. You might disagree with what SHOULD happen on that, but the current court climate is such that if public opinion on a contraversial issue changes, the court will ignore legislative law on the subject. Of course, the court is only doing that when liberals want to ignore the law. That obviously doesn't apply here.
Not all college athletes are dumb jocks enrolled in a generic business major. College sports allow a lot of people to get degrees who otherwise could not afford it or would be buried in debt. There are athletes who are good students and good citizens.
After the Revolution, many new colleges were founded in the new country. These colleges intentionally tried to distinguish themselves from the Old World way of doing things. Engineering was one way: how many small Northeast liberal arts colleges still have an engineering department?
College athletics also are deeply imbedded in the American college culture, going back again to the Revolution. Initially, athletics was seen as necessary to developing the whole man. That ideology has died away, except at the service academies, but once it was a real driving force.
Today, college presidents generally believe that sports, especially football, bind young people emotionally to their alma mater, providing future donations, and provide important national advertising that attract future students. The advertising also unconsciously influences grant providers, even the feds.
The best example of these beliefs is Notre Dame. Notre Dame insists on football independence, even though it would make more money in the B1G or SEC, because it values the opportunity to play a national schedule that gives it an identity and following everywhere in the US.
It ain't going away. If you, yourself, don't get it, you're not an American, your some kind of degenerate European.