The widely publicized admissions scandal reveals the outrageous position that athletic programs occupy (“Colleges Rethink Athletic Special Admissions in Wake of Indictments,” The Wall Street Journal, Mar. 18). Only in the U.S. is this the case. Students in other countries participate in sports, but the options open to them and the weight given to them pale in comparison.
I realize that football and basketball in many schools are a cash cow. But the obsession has so distorted academics that it makes a mockery of higher education. For example, some 158 slots annually are reserved for use by athletic coaches. If those admitted genuinely possessed the ability to compete with their non-athletic peers, that would be a different story. I seriously doubt that is so. Moreover, football coaches at some schools earn several million dollars a year, more than college presidents.
The argument for the status quo is that varsity athletics contain vital lessons for real life, such as discipline and teamwork. They also help keep participants in physical shape. But those same goals can be achieved by intramural sports. Of course that will never happen because alumni pressure wouldn’t allow it. Moreover, few schools are willing to forego the money that is attached to the present system.
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