College athletics make a travesty of higher education

With the exception of a few small colleges, sports programs are a juggernaut that shortchange athletes (“How College Sports Turned into a Corrupt Mega-Business,” The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal,” Mar. 11.)  Division I schools in particular spend three to six times as much on athletics than they do on academics.

There was a time when athletics took a back seat to academics.  But it soon became apparent that athletics were a cash cow.  Any attempt to put athletics in their proper place today is doomed to failure.  There is simply too much money involved.  My main concern is for those who are exploited by the system.  I’m talking about the athletes themselves.  Too many who graduate lack the wherewithal to get a job that their academic peers can.

The argument that athletics builds teamwork is true, but so can intramural athletics.  Yet no college president dare propose that as a solution.

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4 Replies to “College athletics make a travesty of higher education”

  1. Not clear how athletic teams are a cash cow. Yes — football and basketball teams that do reasonably well no doubt bring in more $ for a college than the college spends to support the teams. But, for all those other college athletic teams — the other sports + the football/basketball teams that do not do reasonably well — the teams are $ losers.

    No doubt colleges take in some $ from donations/bequests from rich alumni who have a personal connection to s particular sports team that they played on while an undergraduate — i.e., a Princeton grad who played on the Princeton tennis team, went to Wall Street, made millions, and donated $1M to Princeton because of his fond memories of playing on the tennis team. If colleges eliminated all the teams that operated at a loss, some of these I-fondly-remember-my-college-athlete-days potential donors might reduce or halt their donations. But, doubt that this is a major $ source.

    My bottom line: Colleges should eliminate any interscholastic athletic teams that do not generate enough revenue to cover their own costs + convert all the other sports to intramural. Use the student athletic fees to build more/better athletic facilities for use by ordinary students and/or to operate better intramural programs.


  2. Labor Lawyer: Academics – not athletics – are supposed to be why coileges and universities exist in the first place. I submit that intramural athletics should replace the travesty that not pervades so many Division I schools. Alumni would scream, but what is going on now is a scandal.


    1. Doubt that alumni would scream much except for football and basketball. It’s the prestige and/or warm memories of partying associated with the football/basketball triumphs that the alumni treasure. Doubt that the alumni care much about all those other sports.


  3. Labor Lawyer: I agree. I wonder what will happen if online learning replaces traditional learning. Will alumni still have the same reaction to football and basketball?


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