Tuesday, May 8, 2012

With the Election and the Supreme Court Decision on Health Care Too Far Away the News Turns to Silly Things - Like Banning College Football

An Exercise in Intellectual Futility

If one were going by the headlines one would think that the Presidential election in the United States was imminent.  After all it seems like the 2012 campaign has already gone on forever, and with both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama constantly in the news surely the election must be coming up.  Reality unfortunately is that the fall election will be held this year in the fall, six months from now.  So news providers must come up with something else to entertain an increasingly disinterested public.

Writing in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal the man behind Friday Night Lights suggests that there is no purpose for colleges to have college football.

Why College Football Should Be Banned


Okay, “nothing to see here, move along” as they say in police dramas when the crowd stops to stare at the crime scene.  The author, Buzz Bissinger is really stating the obvious.

In more than 20 years I've spent studying the issue, I have yet to hear a convincing argument that college football has anything do with what is presumably the primary purpose of higher education: academics.

That's because college football has no academic purpose. Which is why it needs to be banned. A radical solution, yes. But necessary in today's times.

In fact, as Mr. Bissinger points out, college football can have a negative effect on the ability of a college to deliver education, because at most schools it consumes resources that otherwise could go to things like, oh, classrooms, more teachers and that sorta stuff.

If the vast majority of major college football programs made money, the argument to ban football might be a more precarious one. But too many of them don't—to the detriment of academic budgets at all too many schools. According to the NCAA, 43% of the 120 schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision lost money on their programs.

This is the tier of schools that includes such examples as that great titan of football excellence, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Blazers, who went 3-and-9 last season. The athletic department in 2008-2009 took in over $13 million in university funds and student fees, largely because the football program cost so much, The Wall Street Journal reported. New Mexico State University's athletic department needed a 70% subsidy in 2009-2010, largely because Aggie football hasn't gotten to a bowl game in 51 years. Outside of Las Cruces, where New Mexico State is located, how many people even know that the school has a football program? None,

except maybe for some savvy contestants on "Jeopardy." What purpose does it serve on a university campus? None.

While what Mr. Bissinger says may be true, it is also silly.  Colleges are not going to eliminate football, in fact they are going to devote more rather than less resources to the sport. 

Groucho, Chico and Harpo took the issue head on about 70 years ago in Horse Feathers.  When Groucho, as President of a college was informed that the school could either build a football stadium or dorms, he chose the stadium.  As to where the students would sleep, Groucho had the answer for that also, in class where they always sleep.  Yeah funny, but maybe you have to see it to appreciate it.

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