Not exactly a knowledgeable sports fan, me; I managed to spend 16 years attending/working for a major Midwestern university without ever watching a game, or even learning the words to the fight song, although I was certainly given plenty of opportunities to do so. I understand that there are many arguments in favor of the current system, stuff like alumni donor support, giving young men from less-privileged backgrounds access to higher education, and the difficulty of finding anything more interesting to do during a pleasant fall weekend in Ohio. But I thought some of you Balloon Juice aficionados might be interested in discussing the Boston Globe‘s idea that “Yes, there’s life after football: Northeastern, thriving without it, seen as a model by some schools”:
…For Northeastern, life after football is good. Very good.
There has been little or no blowback from alumni or students, as money once spent on football now serves other campus goals. In fact, the number of donors is up (from 19,559 to 21,797) as is the number of applicants (37,693 for 2,800 spots), and the stature of the university continues to rise.
No one is claiming these advances are happening because football is gone. But what is drawing the attention of other institutions across the country is how painless it proved to do what once seemed out of the question — eliminating the one sport that, for many colleges and universities, is considered key to catalyzing school spirit, motivating donors, and building a winning identity…
Indeed, college’s big money sport is increasingly viewed and valued differently than in the past, especially at schools like Northeastern, where football was never played at the highest level and where the school’s academic identity wasn’t bound up in gridiron success. Dropping football, at such schools, is now viewed as an alternative thoughtful administrators need to take a long, hard look at.
After Northeastern ended its 74-year football tradition, Aoun received calls and e-mails from several university presidents congratulating him and saying they were considering the same course. Aoun recently penned an article describing the process for The Presidency, a magazine aimed at college presidents, because other institutions wanted a playbook for discontinuing football and saw Northeastern as a possible model. As Northeastern did, those schools spend between $3 million and $5 million annually on the sport for equipment, scholarships, travel, coaches’ salaries, and facilities and their teams generate little interest on campus or success on the field…
The one argument I’ve heard most often in defense of college football is that, unlike baseball, it’s not feasible for the NFL to run a dedicated farm-team “training league” for kids too young and inexperienced to compete with the seasoned professionals. But given recent concerns about encouraging teenagers to risk crippling themselves permanently in pursuit of a “dream job” that only a tiny fraction of them have any chance of achieving, is college football really worth all the “educational” resources colleges spend?
DougJ is the business and economics editor for Balloon Juice.
Major college athletics is a horrible, exploitative scam. I have a friend who played major college ball and was a second-round NFL draft pick (years ago), then quit during training camp to go to grad school. He told me that every year he tells himself he will not watch any more college football because he found the system to be so awful, but he always gives in about halfway through the year.
Davis X. Machina
Locally, Northeastern’s exit was made possible by BU’s exit a few years before. Hoftra has also bailed.
But for every school getting out, one gets in — Georgia State, for example.
College football is the ultimate example of an unpaid internship, only it’s far less likely to lead to a good job.
Yes, there is life after college football, and I’ll get to it right after the Wolverine pound the Spartans this afternoon.
In all seriousness, you are absolutely right that college football (and basketball) can have some highly deleterious impacts on colleges and their students. Unfortunately, it is a vice that I haven’t been able to break yet.
The strongest argument in favor of college football (and sports in general) is that sports scholarships give many underpriveleged young people a chance to get a college education, that they would not otherwise have. There is some truth in this. Sure there’s a lot of cheating, and athletes who don’t take the academic opportunity seriously. But many do make something out of the opportunity, and it’s a ladder out of poverty for thousands of young athletes every year, much more than the tiny fraction that moves on to pro sports.
Many of the high schools near me simply do not have the resources to support a football program, which I’ve been told is much, much more expensive to operate than other sports. Because my kids are not exposed to football at school, it is the one sport they couldn’t give half a crap about, which is OK as my husband permanently messed his body up playing high school football, not that he regrets a moment of it.
College foo ball is more a way of life in some parts of the country than in others.
Hear here Doug. It is a horrible scam, this is coming from a lifelong and at times rabid football fan. I’ve just about given up on college ball. The amount of money that goes into this racket is staggering. That coupled with the fact that major college ball is a subsidiary of ESPN for all intents and purposes makes it even more sickening. Living in Oregon and seeing what Nike U puts in to their program really makes you think twice about it. It is a spectacle and little more. Just a big show and supposed money generator, though frankly for the vast majority of schools it is little more than a very expensive heroin habit. Needing constant feeding but alumni and donors. Now for the fat cats, the anointed ones. If you want to know who they are, spend 15 mins on ESPN and you’ll get the idea, it is a cash cow. But take it for what it is, professional sport played by amateurs for some schools an an albatross for others. Frankly, I’ve been slowly switching to pro ball, at least there is no pretense.
I covered the sports department for the university newspaper when I was at graduate school at LSU (early 90s). The graduation rates at that time for football and basketball were terrible (don’t recall the exact %).
But the students/athletes were given every opportunity. They registered for classes before everybody else. They had their own tutors (I was one of them for awhile) that was totally free of charge.
Many other perks. So if they didn’t get a “quality” education, it was a total lack of effort on their part.
Yeah, it’s a crappy system, but consider DougJ’s friend. Suppose he had been steered to an athletic mill at an early age to develop and exploit his athletic potential because there were no high school or college football programs. He still quits training camp after entering the NFL, but now has no education to go on to grad school.
Northeastern is a terrific academic school. Their football team was notably non-awesome, and did not make up a significant part of the identity of Northeastern. They are also a private institution.
Compare this with, say, a state land-grant college, where the university depends on state funds to keep tuition down. Hence, it depends on the state legislature, who in turn depend on the local popularity of the university before they’ll give them funds. Would Texas be the great academic institution it is without sports? Maybe, but their funding would be a lot more tenuous.
It’s not hard to see why any university with a “St.” in their name would as soon cut funds for football as they would eliminate their English department.
The asserted infeasibility of a potential NFL farm system is no reason at all for a college to have a football team. If it’s not good for the college or the kids playing then let the NFL take care of itself.
I went to a Div. III university where sports were simply a part of campus life. One went to the football and soccer games on Saturdays if it was a home game and the weather was good, because one knew the guys playing on the team and it was nice way to spend the afternoon. Teams had a no cut policy which meant that if you wanted to play and you showed up for the practices, you were on the team. I think it was a fairly healthy approach.
Amanda in the South Bay
Or what about football at the high school level? Maybe I’ve been out of the education wonk loop for a while, but ISTM that everytime budget cuts come up at the high school level, sports and PE seem to be sacrosanct.
Worth noting: at some of the real powers, football generates enough revenue for an entire athletic department. There’s also a sense of community built, opportunities to play sports for all kinds of students, etc.
That said, the NCAA is an awful organization that takes advantage of its players in hilarious ways. Latest example: AJ Green of Georgia was suspended for selling his game worn jersey for $1000, but various schools are selling game worn jerseys/cleats (some signed by the player!) to make money for the athletic department and that’s totally fine with the NCAA. The players in question of course won’t see a dime.
There is literally nothing else to do in Alabama on the weekends. If not for college football, I imagine the murder rates and crime stats would jump pretty high in short fashion. Not to mention the collapse of the RV based economy.
A good friend of mine is a high school principal at in a large school district in IL. Each year he has to sell the exclusive rights to all soda in the school and advertising on scoreboards to a certain company.
If not, he doesn’t have the funding for football. He isn’t so happy about this, but for years the funding he gets for inking this contract is just “built” into his budget. So if he doesn’t do it, no football. And no football, well he’d get run out of town on a rail, if not tarred and feathered.
A very sad state of affairs IMHO.
I had a difficult decision today. Walk over and watch Georgia play Tennessee or stay home and watch all three of my teams, the Illini, the Hokies and the Dawgs on the tube. With the stinky records of the Dawgs and the Vols I’ve opted to stay home.
I appreciate the real concern that you have for the economics of this endeavor but I really don’t see the point. College football is not going to end.
It’s too bad these schools can’t go to something like football “unplugged” that allows a group of young men to enjoy the game in the same way some play soccer or run track.
The thing about college football is that for most colleges and universities it is a net cash drain. A smaller (i.e non-BCS) conference isn’t going to make TV money or bowl money very often. Schools stick with football because they believe that they are making money on intangibles- alumni support, name recognition, etc. Yet there isn’t much evidence that that happens.
It’s a lot like racing horses in that regard. It costs everybody the same amount of money to feed their horse. Only one is going to win the pot.
@Capri: And the intangibles like what it means to local businesses?
Davis X. Machina
@emrventures: The University of Vermont cut football in the ’70’s — and it’s a legislature-supported, land grant school.
You can do it — if you want to. Enormous State University doesn’t want to.
And if the truth be told, they’re better situated to cut football than anyone, because with private schools running north of $50,000 a year (sticker price, YMMV after fin-aid), the state schools have a captive market. For 5 out of 6 high school seniors, it’s State U or No U. Captive market = no marketing. No marketing = no football.
To which the proper response is: Why should that be the problem of our university system, and not the NFL?
It’s an argument that makes no damn sense as soon as you analyze it, or, frankly, even look at it askance.
@Davis X. Machina: Do SUNY schools even have football programs? If so, no one really cares about it. I don’t think it’s really about the schools. It’s more that watching college football is part of the culture in most parts of the country. It’s my experience that in the northeast, people tend to get much more excited about college basketball. If UVM axed their basketball team they’d never hear the end of it.
Davis X. Machina
@JGabriel: Yet British football flourishes in an environment where there college athletics is a joke by American standards.
There are alternative ways to structure a professional sport — we’re stuck with the one we have because of path dependency and history, not because it’s the only or God help us, the optimum structure.
Davis X. Machina
@beltane: Tax the taxpayers for it, say by sin taxes on gas grills, bratwursts, beer, Coleman coolers, RV sales… without folding it into the university budget, and let’s see what happens. Or just sell corporate sponsorships.
We’re supposed to have states because they’re 50 little labs for experimentation. Let’s see Michigan or Nebraska or Alabama get out there and experiment.
@beltane: You don’t remember the magical run of Turner Gill at Buffalo (a SUNY school) a couple years ago?
You simply cannot generalize from the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic States to the rest of the country. Because college football has NEVER been a big thing in the NE outside maybe the Army-Navy game. Sure the Ivy League fields teams and has probably the longest uninterrupted rivalry series in the country, but I don’t think ‘The Game’ (the traditional name for Harvard-Yale at 126 years) has excited more than a yawn from anyone but a handful of elderly alumni for decades now. The Northeast including Northeastern University aren’t going to miss college football because they really never had much of it to start with.
The importance of college football for the major universities of the South, the MidWest and even the West has little to nothing to do with their being farm teams for the NFL, up into the seventies pro football took a decidedly back seat to college football, in a lot of parts of the country the limited number of pro-games even available on TV, almost all featuring east coast teams would mostly be over by the time people got home from church in the mid-west while in the South ‘Sunday Sports’ mostly equalled ‘NASCAR’, it took Monday Night Football followed by Sunday Night Football and then God Help Us Thursday and Saturday Football to really make NFL Football into a rival for pro baseball and college football for most fans.
Why is college football so big outside the Northeast? I’ll venture it has a lot to do with there not being fuck all else to do on a weekend. It is not like Princeton where you can be in a hotel bar in Philly in a couple hours or at Harvard where you are a taxi ride away, in semi-dry states that host the big mid-western teams that kind of metropolitan style entertainment might be half a days drive away. If you want to get drunk and maybe get laid in Norman Oklahoma you go to the tailgate before and the college town bars after the game, that is you go hunting where the ducks are.
So while it makes sense for small liberal arts colleges and medium size urban colleges to drop football it will be a cold day in hell before places like Ohio State and Texas A&M de-emphasize it. Because College Station Tx ain’t Boston. Not on any metric I can even imagine.
@Moses2317: And the reason the Spartans are in the Big(ger) Ten is that the U of Chicago dropped football in the 1930s and quit the Big Ten altogether in the mid 40s, which opened up a slot for MSU.
It doesn’t seem to have hurt the school’s reputation in the slightest.
I’m with Vishnu Schist — I’m a former pretty good footballer who has completely given up on college sports. It’s a horrible scam and unaffordable for most schools. The nfl has been getting a free ride — make it pay for minor leagues.
@Brachiator: This exactly. There are definitely issues at some schools with how they prioritize academics versus athletics, but the opportunity to get an education at that age is something that should not be ignored. I know that some baseball teams will put money into an education fund for younger players so they have something to fall back on, but how many of those players will go back to college at age 23 when their career fizzles out and they are now five years older than the rest of the students?
I have attended (and now work at) Ivies. Nothing is sadder than Ivy football. My high school football was more exciting. Yet we still have it.
Interestingly enough, the Ivies always seem to have some other sport that is infinitely more popular than football. At Dartmouth it was crew. At Cornell it is hockey. Hell, I work here and cannot get tickets for hockey.
As someone on the academic side of the university system, I’ve developed a healthy contempt for college athletics over the past decade. It ranges from such things as athletic coaches being the highest paid employees of not only universities but state governments to the ways those same coaches exploit students’ bodies without any consideration for their development as students or citizens. It comes from alumni making major donations for athletic facilities while ignoring academics and research–you know, the reason universities exist. It comes from working with athletic departments who are more interested in the “athlete” part of student athletes than their academic development. It’s a fucking drain on resources, and it’s disgusting how one of the least important things universities do has become the marker of their purpose.
Amanda in the South Bay
As a coastal DFH who grew up in a small town, all I can say is fuck rural states and their fetish for college football. I’m tired of not being able to criticize red state America, as if they have such a sacrosanct culture that is impervious to reason or rational analysis. If college football is people’s outlets for getting drunk and laid, then these states have bigger problems to worry about.
That’s a loser of an argument. It might have been true 100 years ago, when universities were bastions of elite privilege and the desire to win football games was the only way a poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks would be allowed to attend. But if a school today wants to help underprivileged kids, they should just give academic scholarships to underprivileged kids. Recipients of academic scholarships are more likely to benefit from the education, and the school will save the cost of coaches, uniforms, travel, etc.
Davis X. Machina
Spot the free-market solution to funding (ex)-players’ education:
a.) Better agents — let them suggest their clients hold out for it, for themselves and those who come after.
b.) Better player unions — let the next CBA mandate such things.
c.) Better pro-team ownership — let MLB/NFL/NBA do it, because it’s the right thing.
d.) Let the state universities do it, because they always have.
@Bruce Webb: You’re absolutely right about this. College football is not exceptionally popular here. The only people I know who get excited about it are those who attended big schools in the midwest. My husband is a rabid Pats fan but he’ll only watch college games if it’s raining out and there is nothing else on TV because he says it’s “so f**king boring.” In general, baseball and basketball are the big thing in the northeast, not football. I don’t know why that is, but it has always been this way.
Gosh darn it, where’s the invisible hand when you need it?
(Ditto for stadiums.)
jake the snake
I grew up up in Kentucky, a college basketball state, where basketball is a religion much like football is in Georgia, Alabama or South Carolina. I tend to agree with a lot of the
arguments against high level college sports. However, I can’t help but look forward to college basketball season for from the end of the national championship game in March until the middle of the following October.
This is balanced by my loathing of professional sports.
I hate the agents, the owners and the players in that order.
The only ones who get my limited sympathy are the fans, who are screwed by all of the above.
I firmly believe that Div III is the last bastion of truly amateur sports. The players are out there playing because they love it, not because their scholarship depends on their on-field performance. Of course, I also went to a Div III school- one that is perversely proud of our lack of athletic prowess– so I may be biased.
The purpose of a university is to produce and disseminate knowledge. Providing sports entertainment has nothing to do with the mission.
Unfortunately, the current system is about as locked-in as the Qwerty keyboard. Some schools will be able to kill their football programs, but I think we’re stuck with the insanity of the system as a whole (which includes football, basketball, and occasionally other sports) for a long, long time.
I hate when my students miss classes because of practice or an away game. No one from my school is going pro in any sport so they’re missing part of their education for what is, essentially, a hobby.
Bruce Webb — you don’t have to tell me about College Station, I’ve been in the area for three decades. But listen to yourself — “there’s nothing else to do!!!” Well, Goddammit, go make something else to do. What a pathetic excuse for the status quo. I grew up as a starting offensive lineman for a state-ranked footmaball team in a West Texas town with a bunch of people who could have made something of themselves, but they didn’t. People have to grow and progress in life rather than fall back on what’s always been.
I’ve found plenty of things to do in the past three decades in this area, They’re there — you just have to find them.
J sub D
A-fucking-men. Idiot politicians and taxpayers already build billionaire owners and their millionaire employees tax subsidized stadiums and arenas (I want to puke every time if I ponder this), do we have to subsidize their training leagues as well?
Sure, a handful of schools make some cash with the two revenue sports (football and basketball), but on the whole, it’s a money losing endeavor paid for by tuition and tax dollars. I love the watered down tribalism that goes with pro and college sports as much as the next guy, but I can not make a legitimate claim on the money of others (many who don’t give a crap) to support my entertainment preferences.
A wise and cynical man once said –
Universities with most applications (freshman only):
48263 UC Berkeley
42414 UC Irvine
40933 UC Santa Barbara
40605 UC Davis
39089 Penn State
4 of those top 10 schools have no football and never have, and a 5th (UC Davis) only has a Division I FCS team. They have other (cheaper) sports but they’ve never had football because of the cost and difficulty of getting into a division that would be profitable. The harsh reality is that any new university that should be founded or rise in size has zero chance of fielding a profitable football team. There’s no way to break into Div I without a nearly unlimited investment commitment by the university, because it won’t break even until the tv contracts arrive.
Now, as to donors, that’s a different kettle of fish, and that’s really where fielding a Div I football or basketball team is meaningful. Football in particular is a money driver beyond compare. For top public schools, they get more money from athletics (and donors as a result) than from state subsidies. Turning off athletics isn’t really a possibility for them. It’s quite a catch-22 for schools.
If we are going to use such a strict interpretation we can probably eliminate half the university sponsored activities taking place on any campus.
@Martin: I am friends with the athletic director of a Division I school without a football program. I remember asking him many years ago (shortly after he got the job) if he was gonna try to add football and he basically said that it was too much hassle with too little payoff.
Having been through college in my home country (Spain) where no one could give a damn about collegiate sports (and in fact most people aren’t even aware they exist) I was puzzled by the US obsession with them. At first I was figuring it maybe was something I didn’t ‘get’ but by now I figure it’s just stupid.
I find no good reason to believe the big-time collegiate sports are not a) self-contained within their university and b) orthogonal at best, detrimental at worst to its success as an academic institution.
To me the only question worth asking about someone’s college life is “did you learn shit?”. Everything else is unimportant. If one has to obsess about his alma mater football/basketball/whatever team, a team generally composed of people who could as well have been living on the moon while attending the same college, one has identity problems to work through.
J sub D
Other than present day “social studies” is there a bigger waste of students’ time than a pep rally?
@Roger Moore: I think the sports culture at my university, Lawrence University, was actually quite healthy. I played rugby for four years on a club team. The school also had a Phys. Ed. requirement. One way to meet it was to play a varsity of club level sport. People played because they wanted to; scholarships were not dependent on athletic participation. Even socially, given the size of the school, athletes were not seen as anything particularly special. The likelihood of going pro from Lawrence is virtually zero, so careerism plays no part in participation. I doubt that this kind of spirit can be regenerated in Div. I, but, based on my experience, college athletics were a net benefit to the school in a mens sana in corpore sano way.
@MattR: And probably a few of the academic programs as well, unless we’re using ‘disseminate knowledge’ in a purely theoretical way.
Interesting to see all of the opinions here.
I’m a Southern boy who was a long time RABID college football fan. Now, I think it sucks balls and is an absolute drain on the purpose of universities.
I was “laid off” from a southern university just over a year ago due to massive budget cuts. Our state had massive cuts again this year and is predicted to have even more massive cuts next year.
Did the athletic department suffer, though? Hell no. The operating budget for my former academic department had not seen an increase in 20 goddamned years. Equipment is falling apart and, in many cases, outright dangerous. Our athletic department budget has increased 50% in the last three years during the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression. A total of 34% of the athletic budget (currently just north of 30 million per year) is funded by student fees. It’s fucking insane and my former school isn’t even in the BCS conferences
Almost none of the Division 1A schools make any money on their athletic programs.
If you aere curious about the amount of money spent on college athletics, USA Today has a handy little database:
to be fair, in very real terms, money, non-athlete student recruiting and retention, number of apps received, number of students accepted who attend, at many schools, the ones who dominate the media attention, the football team is an educational resource.
i am not saying it filters down to all levels, and there are huge discrepancies, even at the division one level, but the money that football brings in, and the non-revenue sports it funds, is not money that can be taken for granted. it won’t be there, necessarily, almost assuredly, without football, or basketball.
its the funny thing about the title 9 debate also, the scholarship money that people fight to distribute is generated by the sport some people in the debate wish they could do away with.
can a college do without football, or high level competitive football….never a doubt, many do….
does football steal resources that could go elsewhere? not at most schools, football generates additional resources.
let me ask, would anyone ever have heard of notre dame, academically or otherwise, if it wasn’t for knute rockne?
Not true. Most of the “top” state schools barely break even, if that.
Go see for yourself:
@j: and Milton Friedman took a job there in 1946. Coincidence, I think not.
@MattR: The insurance cost alone is prohibitive. You need a stadium – and if your goal is to break into Div I then it better be able to grow a LOT, along with minor things like parking for 80,000 people, adequate road access, and so on. It just keeps adding up – and the money to scale up really doesn’t come as you grow except from donors, so football at best pays for itself for *decades*.
I could be full of crap (surprise, surprise) but I seem to remember hearing that college football programs really screwed the smaller men’s sports as schools came into compliance with Title IX.
That’s not true. Both UCSD and UCSB had Div III football teams for at least a little while, but folded them because of lack of interest and/or success.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
At only a handful of schools is this the case–maybe 20-25 of the ~120 Div 1-A schools.
@Roger Moore: That must have been quite a while ago, but thanks for correcting that.
Sorry. Here is that link to the USA Today database on college athletic expenditures:
USA Today College athletic expenditures databse
let me ask, would anyone ever have heard of notre dame, academically or otherwise, if it wasn’t for knute rockne?
Let me ask this: should we hear of Notre Dame as a university if it doesn’t have the academic resources to outshine football? Colleges and universities do not exist so that they can host athletic teams. Even the “revenue” sports at most schools drain university budgets.
Haha, MAJeff. Evidently, you’ve not spent much time in the South. As far as most are concerned–especially the alumni of some of the big-time FB schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee,–the university is a subsidiary of the football program and definitely secondary.
Bear Bryant was quoted once as saying “No one comes to sit in stands and watch a math professor give a test.”
@WyldPirate: But that report is somewhat misleading. How much additional alumni revenue is the institution bringing in that doesn’t get sent over to athletics? The reports are designed to show *expenses* and how those expenses are being met. If the school brings in an additional $10M in donations, they aren’t going to give it to athletics if they have no expenses to cover. That excess is going to go to either scholarships or capital improvements or other student services. They need to add an analysis of the relationship between total donations and athletic success, because there is one (unfortunately).
I know that UCLA is better than break even, and USC isn’t even listed. Hell, they shouldn’t even be counted as a non-profit any longer.
Brian S (formerly Incertus)
I never much cared one way or another about college football until recently. I went to a couple of games my first year in grad school at the U of Arkansas, but since then, I’ve mostly ignored it.
But now I work at Florida Atlantic, which got a football team not long before I came here, and its had a modicum of success in the lower tiers of 1-A or whatever they’re calling it now, and rather than being happy for it, I’m pissed most of the time. Why? Because while the school–not the state–is giving faculty their first raises in 3 years (and a paltry 3% at that) after years of budget cuts and layoffs, the state is dropping $35 million on a new football stadium. College football can be swallowed by the earth for all I care now.
what is it you are saying? that a non-profit organization doesn’t turn a profit? duh, but since that isn’t it’s purpose, its really fairly moot.
if the money the revenue sports generate, are poured back into the athletic department, and into non-revenue sports, that is still a win for the university…no school is going to want to show a “profit”, but that has nothing to do with the biases you derive from it.
I only know about it because Caltech (my alma mater) uses the story of the UCSD football program to explain how bad we were. The story is that UCSD couldn’t buy a win, and the final straw was losing to Caltech (and breaking Caltech’s 4 year losing streak) after which the program was canceled. There may be more to the story than the version we were told, but it’s true that UCSD never won a football game, and their final game was a loss that broke Caltech’s 4 year losing streak.
it may not have had academics worth mentioning outside of northwest indiana some years ago, but on the backs of its success at football, yes football, they have built a mighty fine academic institution.
which is kind of the point.
My point is just the opposite. Many of them lose fucking money and they suck up funds directly from state budgets and out of the student’s pockets.
If they want to have athletics at schools, let them have goddamned intramural programs–not fucking farm teams for professional athletics.
@WyldPirate: And the quality of those programs definitely shows. Here’s what I would like to see: NCAA has a system whereby schools are moved up and down in tiers based on the quality of their academics. Cal, UCLA, USC, Penn State, Michigan, GaTech – all very good or excellent schools. If they can run athletics without compromising academic quality, by all means enjoy Division I. But many of the other big football teams in the midwest and south are attached to weak to deplorable universities. Alabama should nearly be run out of sports altogether.
Among other things, it would make the future of the teams quite a bit more uncertain, and perhaps institutions would be more conservative about investing in them.
James E. Powell
If colleges or state governments want to give young men from less-privileged backgrounds access to higher education they could just do that without limiting the access to athletes.
The access justification is just a fig leaf for what is a very profitable business that pays almost nothing to its athlete-employees.
Wile E. Quixote
Yeah, now if we could just get them to drop their economics department.
@WyldPirate: I should also point out that at every public university that I know of, if there’s money coming out of ‘student fees’ for athletics, those fees were voted on and approved by the students, so I don’t see that as a fair point of criticism. If it’s coming out of state budgets, that’s an entirely fair criticism, and even if it’s sucking up alumni giving that would have come without the sports team, that’s a fair criticism, but few universities have that kind of dynamic going on – mostly already insanely wealthy privates.
THIS is the point! Most college “revenue” sport programs do not actually contribute resources to the university. They suck revenues from the rest of the university.
This speaks more to the mentality of the alumni than it does the fund raising prowess of the university.
If you don’t believe me, just check out the endowments at the Ivies.
Sure, there are some short-dicked noodleheaded alumni who open their wallets to giving to fund raising efforts OUTSIDE of athletics, but the vast majority of donors give SOLELY to athletics, especially at big state schools.
Not true. At mine, the Board of Trustees and the state approves it.
Brian S (formerly Incertus)
@Martin: See my comment about Florida Atlantic, my employer. The state has cut our university’s budget–and the budgets of all state universities–by something on the order of 10% each year for the last three years, but they crapped out $35 million for a new football stadium down here. Whatever jobs will be created by that construction won’t cover the jobs lost due to budget cuts over the last 4 years, and whatever revenue will be generated by that stadium and the football team won’t cover the expense of the team.
@fucen tarmal: Football did not build Notre Dame the academic institution. It did not fund the creation of academic programs or faculty chairs. It did not fund research institutes or the building of classrooms.
meh, not so much.
when you consider how much fat there is in the academic departments at most schools, how many faculties publish some junk just to publish, and the only person who reads it, is someone at another university, looking to gravy train, by saying whatever the first person said is bullshit…
the reality, what you don’t want to admit is, as bear bryant said, its kinda hard to rally around a math class. athletics create an identity for a university that running a bunch of undergrads through the same set of equations as 10000 other schools are running their students through, ones that have been solved and settled for hundreds of years, never will…
to say nothing of all the kids reading dead authors and philosophers and coming to the same conclusions as millions of others…
to be equally reductionist about it, why waste money on much of the academics that do nothing but reinvent the same wheel?
@WyldPirate: You can’t control the mindset of the alumni, and discontinuing the sports will discontinue the giving. Let’s just accept that as a given. But if athletics do bring in money that can be spent in other areas (and that does happen) then what’s the problem?
Your point about the quality of the academics at the institution is pretty bogus. The reason is that the programs you mention have a separate set of standards for their athletes vs the average student.
sure, those schools do a good job of snowing everyone, but don’t kid yourself. Most of their football and basketball recruits wouldn’t stand a prayer of getting admitted were it not for their athletic abilities.
Here’s an idea, bitch and moan about alcohol. The human toll is far greater than college football. Oh, we like to drink, sorry.
@Brian S (formerly Incertus): And that illustrates a larger problem with public education in most states – the folks doling out the money have no fucking clue what education needs, and often put the money in the wrong pots. I’m guessing you also have excess money going into capital expenditure pots than in salary – because voters like it when legislators ‘invest’ but dislike all of those ‘overpaid public employees’. It’s a pretty brutal kick in the chest when you’re under stress to keep a $2M building remodel on task while you’ve been furloughed. Money in all the wrong places…
@Roger Moore: But they did hijack the scoreboard in the 84 Rose Bowl!
You know, I really have no problem with this. I think that it is a huge problem. Most of the horseshit that is published is just that, horseshit. There is too much emphasis on publication and nearly none on teaching at most of the “research” universities.
It’s not the business of the university to entertain the fucking students, but to educate them. Neither football on saturdays or some sorry ass prof that hasn’t got time to bring their class up to date–or better yet whose english is so fucking pathetic they couldn’t pass a TOEFL exam–does the students any favors.
@Brian S (formerly Incertus):
I’m an FAU alumnus, as is my wife, and the whole situation there is atrocious. Part of the problem was bad timing. A lot of the private donors for that new stadium either balked or completely reneged on their commitments because of economic circumstances.
The other problem was that odious fucking wingnut Frank Brogan, who thankfully is no longer the president of the university, although he did fail upwards into the state’s chancellor position. His priorities for FAU were totally fucked up, and I’m glad to see the new president is more focused on academics.
Speaking of which, what do you think about her?
Wile E. Quixote
Let me guess, you also believe that defense spending pays for itself and doesn’t contribute to the deficit, that we’ll be greeted as liberators and that the Iraq war will pay for itself.
Even at schools that make money off of their football programs it drains resources from other academic programs. In 1987, when the University of Washington, a school that makes money off of its football program, was expanding Husky stadium the board of regents decided to tap into student funds to pay for part of the stadium expansion. Their rationale was that the stadium was a facility that students used and that they should help pay for it. Of course the only way that you ever get into Husky Stadium as a student is to buy a ticket for a football game, it’s not like the libraries, the student union or the IMA (the intramural activities building which has an excellent gym that is open for free to all students).
Invoke the spirit of Knute Rockne all you like (are you going to ask us to “Win just one for the Gipper”?) but college football is a scam that costs students money and provides little or no concrete benefits for them, and no, being able to get shitfaced drunk on Saturday and wave a foam finger around while cheering your team is not a concrete benefit.
This is the most bizarre teaching philosophy statement I have ever seen. What would you like for college to be doing?
no, they would be st. edwards university.
@Wile E. Quixote:
you guess wrong, moron.
@Wile E. Quixote: Wow, you really told. Now, who gives a fuck?
Only until somebody in the Math department does something really cool. I can tell you from experience that having a major award winner at your school does a hell of a lot to raise morale. And having people look at my CV and recognize my alma mater as a place with a bunch of Nobel Prize winners does a lot more for my job prospects than having them recognize it as a place with a good football program would.
Again, look at the endowments at some of the universities.
endowments from Business week
Most of those at the top are not “big-time” in the world of college athletics.
While I agree with this, this is unfortunately a revenue issue. Grants bring in money that allow you to open up more faculty lines. Grants also allow you to protect people and resources from budget cuts.
Until the grant is gone. I’ve worked on soft money, I know.
i just want to see the people who hate football, because they were stuffed in lockers or whatever, justify their existence, the way they are complaining about football.
are you merely saying sports shouldn’t be important because you weren’t any good at them?
athletics are a vital area for human development. whether you like it or not, physical development is as important as intellectual development…and if you want to complain that the people in the crowd aren’t playing, well you aren’t kierkegaarde either.
@Walker: Critical thinking.
Doesn’t come through at all in quite a few academic areas, unfortunately. I remember having a drag-out argument with a professor in class about the motives of the protagonist in a book we were reading at the time. She insisted that there was only one way to interpret the characters actions. After 5 minutes, I had most of the class agreeing with me, and then she walked out. I still got an A, but it was clear that alternate viewpoints were not tolerated in that, or a lot of the other classes in the department. Thankfully, I only need to take 3 courses for my degree there.
I’m not particularly impressed by this. If the football team had won more games than it lost, then most likely this decision doesn’t get made.
If NU decides to close the basketball program, then I would be impressed.
@fucen tarmal: Fuckin A! This bullshit gets recycled over and over. Smug fuckers complaining about sports so they feel smart. Go Illini!
“… is college football really worth all the “educational” resources colleges spend?”
Are we done now?
Probably not, so…
College sports, as currently practiced, stand out as one of the worst ways to promote, let alone achieve or maintain physical fitness; if anything, it has the opposite of any desirable result. We could do better by spending the money on almost anything else.
@Janus Daniels: What bullshit.
This brings up an interesting point (at least, it is interesting to me). Is the duty to educate a purely academic one? That is, should a university be aimed at producing scholars and/or practitioners of various professions, or should it be aimed at producing well-rounded individuals with intellectual and personal skills that will aid them in their lives? If it is the latter, activities outside the classroom matter.
Sure it is, but sitting drunk and stupid in the stands and acting the fool isn’t physical development. If they are going to physically develop themselves, provide the students intramural programs and places to exercise. That can be done for a whole shit-pot less money than it does to run an athletic program at the D-1a level.
You sound like you’ve never even set foot on a campus with a big-time football progam but rather spent most of your time beating your meat in front of a TV watching it.
@Omnes Omnibus: It is if you are a pinheaded bookworm (I am not implying that YOU are).
You make an excellent point, OO.
I would agree that it should be the mission to educate AND to make them well-rounded individuals.
But, as you pointed out in a thread elsewhere, those athletic opportunities were provide at the small school you went to.
Many of the schools we are talking about are spending north of 100 million dollars a year on their athletic programs. I would contend that this is some serious overkill and is indicative of our society’s fucked up priorities.
Some of these U’s are out of hand. It’s part of the “bread and circuses” atmosphere our country has devolved into.
@WyldPirate: No, but most of those are big in the world of endowments. Harvard puts their endowment ahead of academics just like Alabama does with football. It’s no different, it’s just that Harvard in this model has more money to use to keep academics at a reasonably high level, but then USC has risen in the academic rankings by siphoning money off of the back of their sports teams – they really did invest in the quality of the university through sports.
But if you think that Harvard gives an equal shake to students on the basis of academic merit, and if you think they assign grades in a similar fashion, then you’re delusional. Everyone there gets an A because the children of the rich and famous don’t bring in gifts when they earn Cs, so nobody earns Cs.
The education there is very good, but it could be substantially better with the resources they have. And they’ve turned out more than a few stupid alumni – with honors – people that I’m sure would have either not gotten out of a mid-tier public university or certainly would not have with honors.
@WyldPirate: Right, this is all brand new, just started last week.
see this i can buy….but the odds are, at most schools, you aren’t coming anywhere near the top end of achievement, or the bleeding edge of the field of study.
athletics is different, at the skills they practice, and the training and ability that goes with it, the athletic teams offer a closer glimpse of that sense of greatness. bigger, stronger, faster athletes than ever before doing things that seem impossible.
the charge people get by participation in or proximity to the extraordinary is the same, but athletics is a more reliable way to achieve it. it’s that charge that the university is trying to capture in the hopes that it is contagious.
@stuckinred: I went to a liberal arts college for a reason. I wanted to be in an educational environment that was based on the idea of a well-rounded person. In addition to my classes, I played rugby, acted as an assistant coach for a year to the LU women’s rugby team, fenced for a year, was in a fraternity, took part in anti-apartheid protests, studied overseas, had a radio program, and was one of the organizers of the annual LU trivia contest. I think all of those experiences added to my education as a person-if not as a scholar.
One change that would be a small step in the right step of restoring the balance between athletics and academics would be to allow (if not force) schools to offer full, four year scholarships instead of them being renewed every year at the discretion of the coach. The DOJ is actually looking into the current NCAA practice of forbidding schools from offering guaranteed scholarships as an antitrust violation.
@Martin: Actually, at Harvard everyone gets an A. I obviously don’t care anymore, but when I was in college a study of grade distributions showed Harvard to be the “easiest” of all the Ivies. At my school, a non-Ivy, the vast majority of classes were graded on a B- or C+ curve.
@Omnes Omnibus: Further, at many universities, there is no broader culture than the university. Students live there for 4+ years, and the range of experiences that students get in those 4 years helps determine where they will study. A school in the weeds is less likely to attract those top students (and top faculty) than one that has a broader range of social activities thanks to being in a city, etc. Schools need to provide a reasonably broad set of experiences for students, and entertainment is part of that. How they offer that is a reasonable area of debate, but not whether they offer it. Nobody wants to go to the University of San Quentin.
I was at Boston University when they ended their college football program, and while what they and Northeastern did may serve as an example for other schools whose student body doesn’t give a damn about football… it doesn’t seem very generalizable. The only sport Boston schools who aren’t BC care about is hockey… and you notice there is no talk of cutting that. Probably they used most of the money they saved to build those fancy new arenas… not libraries.
@Omnes Omnibus: I think that is great and it was your choice. I went to Illinois and Georgia and sports are AN important part of those schools along with many other aspects of life. BTW all the artsy people I hang with bitch and moan about football all the time.
@MattR: I think four year scholarships would make a difference. Schools would need to more carefully consider to whom they were offering the money.
@Omnes Omnibus: As much as I hate Bobby Knight I liked his idea that you didn’t get a scholarship until some one with one graduated.
@Omnes Omnibus: And it would definitely cut down on the power of the coaches over the kids if the only thing they had to do to keep their scholarship was to maintain a minimum GPA.
@stuckinred: I think that is a bit harsh. If someone decides to leave school after three years of doing good school work because they know they will make several million dollars in the NBA (and that a bad season or an injury could change that), it seems a bit unfair to punish the school for that. If anything it might deter schools from accepting talented poor athletes.
This is, of course, anecdotal and probably a function of our particular circumstances, but I can tell you that football has been a huge boon to academics at Northwestern. When the football team started having some success in the mid-/late-90s, applications to the school skyrocketed and the standards for admission followed. With the scores that got me in in 1986, I doubt very seriously if I could have gotten in today (and I graduated top of my HS class). Northwestern has always been an academically-oriented school, but there’s zero question that the football program’s success has been a boon for the university’s academic performance. Maybe that only holds true for Div I doormats who suddenly become winners. I am certainly open to that interpretation. But, you know… that happened.
data, please. Until then, you’re talking out of your ass.
Furthermore, I see that USC is at #21 on the endowment list with a total of 2+ billion. Are you contending that endowment was built on athletics and the generosity of admirers of the athletic programs.
Now before you have a cow, I’ll grant you that it probably has gone both ways at USC. But read down the list, many of the big football schools have shit for endowments but they raise 20 million a year on donations to the athletic programs alone. Most of the time, that money goes right back into feediing the beast of athletics.
Nice strawman on the “gentleman’s grades” and admissions at the Ivies, too. I made no claim that the hypocrisy didn’t cut both ways. But the bulk of the athletes at the schools with high quality academics and high quality athletics wouldn’t stand a chance on getting in on their academic qualifications.
There are plenty of schools that suffer for this. Look at Vanderbilt, Duke, Rice, etc. They have sucked at football for years because they don’t bend their standards enough to be competetive year in and year out.
@MattR: I was thinking more about a kid staying as long as it took to get a degree, not going pro.
There could have been a better day for this thread! Illini 33 Penn State 13!!!!!!
Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle
@Roger Moore: And NYU once had a football team, back when Vince Lombardi was a 200 lb. offensive lineman at Fordham.
@Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle: All hail St. Vincent!
The most cogent defense of college sports ever devised.
Calvin Jones and the 13th Apostle
@stuckinred: And Knight had a 2.5 GPA rule for his players while the NCAA is only 2.0 … meaning he actually set stricter standards … he could be a real dick .. but he cared for his players .. even if he had an odd way of showing it sometimes … just ask Landon Turner
Oh hell. This is simple. College football, and to a lesser extent basketball, generate a built in student body. Kids grow up knowing they are going to UF or Oklahoma or Ohio State. Why? Because they grew up watching the games. This isn’t rocket science. The despondent academics need to get over yourselves. Every one of you would go back and do it over if you had the chance and athleticism/ skill to play.
@WyldPirate: I’m with you — fucen tarmal has built a little straw man. As I’ve said before, I was (and am) a very good athlete. I don’t need, as apparently he and stuckinred do, a bunch of folks running around on a football field to make me feel good about myself or my university.
Buncha intellectual and athletic lightweights … I’m tired of paying taxes to support your beer-drinkin’ and tailgatin’. Pay your own damn way with minor leagues.
Brian S (formerly Incertus)
I’ll say that I’m still in the “giving the benefit of the doubt” stage and leave it at that.
@WyldPirate: My point was that alumni giving for the sake of academics is restricted to a very small number of schools (MIT and Johns Hopkins are two that comes to mind – I don’t think Lacrosse brings in all that much at the latter), and to a very small degree at most other schools. Endowments are no better a measure of academic giving than football revenues. Simply put, we don’t value academic excellence in this country in the manner that you and I would define it.
And yes, the data does cut both ways at USC. I can’t provide data because USC doesn’t publish it, but I know people at USC that were there when the campus made that shift a few decades ago. They were a strong athletic school and a marginal academic one and the faculty were very worried about their academics. Fortunately, they had the right conditions to both boost alumni giving and siphon money off of sports to boost academics. I fucking hate USC, but they deserve credit for what they did in the 90s – they’re clearly a stronger academic school than they were, and they did that in the shadow of the UCs and Stanford – no small feat.
They also benefit from some of the same ‘right connections’ conditions that you find in the ivys. Not to the same degree, but the bond trader community here in OC has got to be 90% USC grads. I’ve worked in places where when job applications were plentiful that they’d take every non-USC applicant and drop them in the trash, and select among just the USC applicants. Says something about the folks with their thumbs on the levers of the financial system as well.
But back on endowments – putting money into endowments is a difficult decision, so I wouldn’t read too much into that either. Harvards is huge in no small part due to the age of the institution. 400 years is a long time to compound interest. But for every dollar you bring in, you can either spend that dollar now, or put it in the endowment and spend $.05 next year. Given the rapid growth of higher ed over the last 30 years, most institutions haven’t been able to invest in their endowments – only those that generate so much income from their endowments that they don’t need the donations. Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford all have endowments large enough to generate enough income each year to pay all student tuition, and still have money left over to reinvest. They are, by their own inability to spend that much money, for-profits, so yes, their endowments will keep growing even when most of the other universities cannot afford to grow theirs.
I do love the “all the geeks are haters” theme running through this thread.
@MAJeff: I love the way that you are reading an “all the geeks are haters” theme into the thread.
@Cassidy: Well, those examples are actually bad examples. Of course students are going to go to their big state universities, that’s why the state built them.
Nebraska and Oklahoma barely have a public university. Students are going to go there because it’s cheap and local. Their alternative is to pay out-of-state tuition to UT Austin or Colorado or Iowa or a private, and that’s what the sports help prevent – they help keep the students coming to their so-so institutions by providing entertainment value against that additional cost of tuition that would come with added academic value.
Is it a good trade-off for students? No. Is it a good trade-off for the state? Possibly. I’m not sure most Americans would even know that Nebraska is a state if not for the football team, and who knows what the fate of the university would be without it given the limited population of the state. I think the case for sports at schools like the UCs, Michigan, Penn State is a lot harder to make. They’ve got sufficient academic strength to stand without football, and large enough populations to keep academic quality high.
In a lot of ways the dynamics behind public universities parallels health care due to the cost increases by crossing state lines and the interplay between non-proft and for-profit options. There are a lot of faustian deals being made due to the market constraints that those state borders impose.
@Martin: And those “academic” schools you mention still spend quite a bit of money on entertaining the students and improving student life on campus (referring back to an earlier comment from someone else that colleges are there to educate not entertain)
@MAJeff: I’m a geek and an athlete. Doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate or understand college athletics for what it is. I originally went to college, hoping to make the Crew team. I didn’t. Such is life. I learned early on, because of athletics, that while winning is fun, sometimes you lose and that’s okay. You suck it up and get better. Personally, I believe that the academic’s disdain for athletics goes way deeper than budget cuts and pay raises and stadiums, etc. It’s a very deep rooted jealousy. No one said “look at the big brain on Brad” and gave *you a cookie. Suck it up. Such is life.
*generic “you” not you specifically
About as much as I love the “all the football fans are selfish, beer-swilling, dumbass hicks” theme running through this thread. Cuts both ways.
It depends on how much money a college is able to make off its football program. Football and basketball are the two revenue sports for most universities, which fund all the other stuff like women’s basketball, softball, gymnastics, lacrosse, wrestling, track and field, etc.
If a school can’t make money off its football program, it’s probably not worth keeping. I think people in small schools, where they know they aren’t going to compete on a national level, aren’t the most attuned to their colleges athletic programs anyway.
I haven’t read through the comments yet but I can tell you my son’s college sports experience. He was on the cycling team at CalPoly-San Luis Obispo. The team got almost no financial support from the college. They didn’t have a coach and basically ran their own show and yet they consistently placed in the top four at the nationals. They came in second one year. Colorado is very hard to knock out of first place. When they competed near where we lived in Southern California I had wall-to-wall college students in sleeping bags. Stanford and other schools would put their team up in hotels. I don’t know of anyone who has ever heard of the CalPoly Mustang football team except alumni, but they got all kinds of support from the school.
Also, too, cycling is a life time sport which he still does and it keeps him as fit as he was in college!
How about cheerleaders for chess?
@Chup: For better or worse, major sports became big at the university level before pro-leagues were a glimmer in anyone’s eye, with baseball being the one big exception.
University athletics have been around and have been big for too long to just up-end and stop it all of a sudden and start minor league pro-teams.
@MattR: Yeah, and that’s a good point. To a certain degree this seems like a dispute over what is ‘valid’ entertainment.
I don’t see a problem with some schools catering to students that like sports and others to students that like the arts, etc.
@MattR: Damnit man, I thought you had linked to pictures of cheerleaders playing chess…sigh…got excited for nothing :-)
@Martin: <blockquoteI don’t see a problem with some schools catering to students that like sports and others to students that like the arts, etc.
They currently do. There are also school that cater those who want to participate in sports and/or the arts. There are a lot of meats in our academic stew.
Martin, bro, you really need to go and look at the list of endowments I linked above.
Furthermore, in the quote I cited, you are simply dead wrong on that. You do realize that there are hundreds of colleges and univeristies in this country, right? For what other purpose–since most of their athl;etic programs are wither small/and or not profitable do you think people give money to universities and colleges?
You also do realize that at most of them, if they have an athletic program at all, then it is funded at a “loss”, right? You do also realize that most of the endowments are what fund scholarship programs, endowed professorships and the like, right? I mean I know some schools, like the Univ. of Alabama, Tennessee and the like aspire to one day have a University that their football team can be proud of instead of vice versa, but c’mon.
That said, I’ll grant you that perhaps USC is an exception to the rule. It’s a private joint, not too large that has enjoyed some athletic success for a good number of years. Athletic giving could have made a big impact. I would contend–in the absence of data supporting or refuting it–that that impact would be the exception rather than the rule.
@gene108: This really is the heart of it, I think. College sports aren’t going anywhere, and talking seriously about a world in which they don’t exist is mental masturbation. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; I’ve spent many an evening with friends and drinks doing just that. But, it’s a fantasy. They’re not going anywhere. The conversation that really matters is How do we support students and student athletes the best we can in a world in which big time college sports are a reality? There’s a hell of a lot of room for serious reform there, some of it even within reasonable reach.
@gene108: And I wonder if the NFL expanded to it’s natural market size, if those big college sports would survive as large as they are now? If LA got one or even two pro teams, would that kill football at UCLA/USC eventually?
@Martin: I doubt it. The University of Wisconsin and the Green Bay Packers both manage to get attention from largely the same limited fan base.
I think the ‘geeks are haters’ meme in this thread is in fact appropriate. I’ve been dealing with this shit from anti-football and sports fans my whole life; they don’t like them and therefore feel necessary to bash them at every opportunity.
I think in many cases people are too lazy or stupid to understand the complexity and beauty of football as a combination of physical and intellectual achievement. I went to the University of Texas and football is indeed a way of life there. I’ve been watching, studying and enjoying it for my entire life. UT football is why I went to the University of Texas.
Criticisms that the NCAA could treat students better are valid, but that’s just nibbling around the edges.
I totally agree with the earlier poster who said that if the people who like to bitch about football and other sports had been born with those physical attributes themselves, they would have been involved in sports and singing a different tune now.
@Martin: You mean like in the 1980’s, when the Raiders played in LA and the Rams were still in LA?
UCLA and USC survived just fine.
Some cities are just pro-sports towns, even though you have a fair number of universities in them. Boston and Philadelphia for the most part aren’t going to embrace a college football or basketball team, unless they do very well and deserve the recognition.
For whatever reason, very few major universities in this country – like the big state colleges, for example – ever popped up in the biggest cities in the state, so there’s very little competition between pro-sports and college sports for local viewership.
I don’t know, if the NFL can expand any more. The last real expansion came when Charlotte and Jacksonville got NFL teams. Jacksonville, like most Florida cities, just doesn’t do a good job supporting a pro-sports team.
The last two expansion teams replaced franchises moving from Houston and Cleveland.
I just don’t see the benefit of sticking a pro-team in Iowa or Nebraska or Wyoming, for example, which really is all that’s left to expand to for the NFL.
@Martin: Doubtful. In addition to the geographic reasons already given, the pro game and the college game are different enough that there’s a large fan base for each that doesn’t cross over. Personally, I have little use for the NFL. It bores me to tears. But college football is a different animal. Same with NBA vs. NCAA basketball. (Although, actually, when it comes to basketball, I enjoy high school competition more than either NCAA or NBA. More potential for slapstick amusement.)
Wile E. Quixote
1) Subject verb agreement. “Athletics are different”.
2) Learn to use capital letters fuckstick. You’re not e.e. cummings
and you know what, even if you were I’d still tell you to learn
to use capital letters.
Let me guess, you spend lots of time masturbating to the beach volleyball scene in Top Gun. If you want to get a charge by sniffing jock straps then go watch the NFL. Christ, when you say stupid shit like this you sound like Jonah Goldberg.
@WyldPirate: I know precisely how many colleges and universities there are. I manage working agreements with 150 of them.
You seem to not realize that endowments are not the tail end of a profit/loss statement. The UC system deliberately rejected building an endowment for decades, feeling that any incoming funds should be steered directly to the benefit of the institutions and students today and not toward some rainy-day fund that might never be used. They have a $5B endowment. They took a $1B budget cut last year alone. The endowment is nothing for a university with 200,000 students and 1.3M alumni.
I went to a top ranked small private college (1000 students) with Division III sports and sports still dominated the motivation for alumni giving. Most of the money didn’t go to sports however. The lions share went into an endowment for student scholarships, but the reason people kept giving was because they enjoyed the sports while they were attending and enjoyed following the sports after they graduated – that was clear in every alumni survey I’ve seen. Alumni giving even modest amounts of money were encouraged to give toward a specific student scholarship or capital improvements project, but the connection between the alumni and the college were the sports. Alumni turned out in small numbers for commencement, but in large numbers for homecoming.
You’re confusing the what and why of alumni giving. They rarely align, which seems odd, but sports are a big part of why people emotionally connect to institutions, and how they maintain that connection after they leave. Once you lose that emotional connection, you’ve lost your donor. At the ivy’s, that connection comes more through hiring and legacy. You remain connected by hiring people and having coworkers from the school, or by sending your kids there. The public universities and small schools largely don’t have that ability. The publics are prohibited by law in most cases from even entertaining it. Sports is one of the few things they can use, at least until our culture puts value in academics, the local arts, and other things that they can offer.
@gene108: The NFL can expand just fine – they just can’t afford to do so with $1.5B stadiums, $20M per year contracts, and $100 per game tickets. But there’s clearly a massive amount of untapped talent out there, and plenty of demand. If this was any normal market, we’d have as many NFL teams as there are Div I teams. The money is clearly there for expansion, but the team owners want it all funneled into their pockets rather than diluted across a much larger market.
@cdmarine: I know where you’re coming from here – I prefer college baseball over pro, mainly because I can more readily afford to experience the game up close. But I think if the pro sports expanded, that expansion would force them to look a lot more like college. Their talent pools would expand and you’d get more diversity of talent across the teams. Players would earn less, and be more individually motivated. A lot of the overproduction would simply vanish. These sports would look a fair bit more like they did a generation or two ago, which is a lot like what college sports today look like.
Well, after reading the interminable bullshit that passes for comments, all I have to add is this.
You are close, but no cigar. The longest running college football rivalry is played annually between Lafayatte and Lehigh, good ol’ Commonwealth of Pennsylvania schools, so fuck the ivies.
Actually, at Harvard everyone gets an A.
As a Harvard alum, actually everyone doesn’t.
I obviously don’t care anymore, but when I was in college a study of grade distributions showed Harvard to be the “easiest” of all the Ivies.
This is not actually obvious.
For whatever reason, very few major universities in this country – like the big state colleges, for example – ever popped up in the biggest cities in the state
I’m not sure that’s quite so true as it appears. Just off the top of my head, I can think of Harvard, MIT, BU, Columbia, NYU, Brown, UCLA, Northwestern, University of Chicago, Georgetown, Tulane, University of Washington, etc., all of which are among the major universities and all of which are in the biggest cities in their state.
Wile E. Quixote
Shorter fucen tarmal:
1) if you don’t like watching athletes running, jumping and wrestling each other to the ground, the sweat glistening on taut skin stretched over rock hard muscles then you’re a fag hater weenie.
2) don’t bother confusing me with all of your facts and statistics about college sports. facts and statistics are for fag hater weenies.
3) i’d rather have a full ride scholarship to Nebraska, because they have a good football team than a full ride scholarship to some fag school like harvard or yale that doesn’t. besides, you know what that “N” stands for on their helmets in nebraska? It stands for knowledge.
4) i want a president I can have a beer with and who looks good in a flight suit.
5) as soon as i lose another 60 pounds i’ll be able to fit into my high school letterman jacket.
Plus U. Penn.
Hey, I bet if we combine this thread with the fraternity one from last week we could get people to expose every last resentment and lingering bias that they have been carrying since high school and college.
Wile E…. a case study in academic jealousy. So was your girl drunk or did she willing drop your ass for the jock?
People who think Universities have always been more about academics than sports need to study the history of Cambridge and Oxford in Britain on which Harvard and Yale were explicitly modeled and in turn Stanford and Cal right down to the school colors. And this goes double for the ‘Public Schools’ like Eton and Rugby they drew their students from. For a couple hundred years being the cricket captain at Eton or a ‘Rowing Blue’ at Oxford counted for a lot more than being the ‘Second Wrangler’ (no 2 math grad) at Cambridge. For the children of aristocrats in Britain the results of ‘Boat Day’ between the two U’s were of infinitely more interest than who got what Honors.
Don’t kid yourself that there has been much change, the whole point of going to Yale for a lot of legacies is to get ‘tapped’ for Skull and Bones and for their daughters to go to the Seven Sisters to get he right MRS. Degree. On that latter point read Friedan’s Feminine Mystique on how highly educated women got shunted into traditional upper class roles as just running the household. Or just read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. H
Apropos of nothing. My Cal Bears smacked the crap out of the UCLA Bruins today. Pretty sure the final was 35 – 7. Roll On You Beaaars!
Two words on Cal Poly SLO’s Football team: John Madden
I know you might not know who he is, but he later coached a little team called the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl and is in the Hall of Fame. He also has some sort of NFL football video game that’s apparently all the rage. It’s probably just a fad though right? He played for Cal Poly offense and defense. That’s kind of weird eh? Like that Weird Al guy who also went to Cal Poly.
As for Anne’s original post on colleges dropping football teams. Western Washington eliminated theirs. It was controversial and the new president and long term co-athletic directors were labeled “two lesbians and a gay guy who did not really care for sports” by some alumni that were trying to raise funds to keep it going.
Surprisingly one college decided to add football after a twenty year absence, Pacific University of Oregon. A donor gave some money and that apparently included a request to bring back football.
Last year, only two Big Ten schools didn’t turn a profit on their athletic departments- Northwestern and Minnesota.
I do know who John Madden is. I did not know that he is a CalPoly alum. I checked your info on Wiki. The picture of him is of a jowly, portly old man. He should have taken up cycling at an early age and he might look more hale and hearty. CalPoly also used to have a really good surfing team (a natural for coastal California) which got very little financial support from the college. Surfing is also a life long sport.
My point is that starting in high school we should put more emphasis on sports that can be played for a life time. Maybe living in NW Arkansas has jaundiced my view of our physical education system. I see people half my age tooling around the local Walmart in electric shopping carts because they are too fat to walk. The obesity problem facing our nation is a train wreck waiting to happen to our medical system. The military also has national security worries because so many recruits cannot pass the physical.
I cannot imagine not being able to get around my property and work in my garden. My 50th high school reunion is coming up and I am debating whether to go because I can’t stand the idea of seeing old friends in such states of decay.
@Stefan: How many of them have big time football programs? Or any type of athletics at all?
U of Washington and Georgia Tech have big time football programs. Boston College’s football program really struggles for recognition in the Boston market, but generally has fielded solid teams.
Villanova, Temple, Georgetown have good basketball programs and are in major cities (Ga. Tech and U of W have major conference b-ball programs), but there’s probably only a dozen or so colleges in major cities, and have big-time athletics programs.
The University of Houston was a big time basketball program back in the day.
I just can’t think of too many colleges in major sports market towns, which also have big time athletics programs.
@Davis X. Machina:
Actually, the University of Vermont does have an official football team. It is an NCFA team that competes in the Yankee Collegiate Football Conference. I just went to the homecoming game last week! They beat Clarkson University 33 to 6. I would guess about 2,000 students and supporters were there. UVM plays other club teams and the JV squads of NCAA colleges. Club football only costs the University about $12,000 a year (from the SGA). The rest of the money comes from members and donors. Club football is a very low cost and refreshing alternative to high cost D1 and D2 programs. But it is real football, They wear uniforms and everything. I think if the students and their supporters want to play, Universities should let them form clubs and do it. It is a pure form of sportmanship.