Sunday, December 1, 2013

College Sports: How Sports Became The Most Important

            College coaches are making more money than ever before in history. Some people think that this is a problem for society, because it shows a shift from academics to athletics. The argument on one side is that big sports programs make lots of money for the University. The other side is arguing that the money should be going to academic programs. I agree with both sides, and I believe that both sides are missing one key reason behind this drive toward massive sport programs. State houses are slashing the budgets of their Universities like crazy in this bad economy. So, let us look at where a lot of these big sports problems are popping up.
            The states with leaders cutting higher education budgets are where these big sports are popping up. Granted, there are case by case situations. However, this is a pattern I have begun to see in higher education. So, let me paint a picture for you. You are a President of a big college and the state budgets are slashing things from their budget like a butcher. You have worked too long and too hard to get into the big chair. The federal government is telling you that there is no more money, but everyone knows that the military industrial complex lobbies to are draining the system dry with wasteful spending at the pentagon. This is forcing state governments to beg for every penny, and they are telling you to find the money somewhere. You tried raising tuition, but the student body are already drowning in student loan debt (1.2 trillion in my generation). A memory of last year student protests flashes in your memory. That's the last thing you want. The numbers come in about how much money sports are bringing in. A championship would double those numbers. What would you do?
           Begging for bigger budgets from the state house might work from time to time, but thousands of screaming fans are guaranteed income for the College year after year. A winning team allows building to be built and grad students to get research done. The dangerous side of this is not in the logic that led to the result. The dangerous side is the fact that I see a pattern of universities picking their source of income (sports programs) over their mission statement of education in the name of education. I do not mind if the football team follows the logic above in helping build buildings, but I fear that the source of income is taking on a life of its own. Our government cares little about education (regardless of what they say). The children of government leaders go to private schools, which makes the slashing of budgets far less personal and much easier for them. The colleges have been told to make up the difference in their budgets, and this is how they are doing it. These college presidents are caught between a government that pays lip service to education (did I mention their kids go to private colleges?) and a student body that cannot take on anymore debt. My generation is already drowning in 1.2 trillion of student loan debt, and this is the solution they have come up with.    

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