The Contrast in College Athletics
College football season is upon us, and another reminder of the insanity of the situation.
has built a center
for its football team that apparently rivals the palaces of royalty and
Saddam Hussein in luxury and opulence. University of Oregon
Cliff Volpe for The New York Times
The Football Performance Center at the University of Oregon features rugs woven by hand in Nepal, couches made in Italy and Brazilian hardwood underfoot in the weight room that is so dense, designers of this opulent palace believe it will not burn.
Need more, here it is.
The small details stand out. The bathrooms with green stalls and mirrors with painted Ducks slugging conference foes. The extra-large furniture tested to withstand 500 pounds. The elevators decorated with famous plays in
football history, the actual plays,
drawn up in Xs and Os by a coach. The room for professional scouts to watch
footage of Oregon
players. The ticker running sports scores. Oregon
On and on, for football’s sake:
The foosball tables from
in the players’ lounge. The ventilation systems in each locker. The magic
shelves that charge phones or tablet devices without the need to plug in. The
250-plus televisions. Barcelona
The Ring Room, shaped like an O, with rings underneath green neon light and audio created by Finnish engineers using game-day sound from Autzen Stadium. The cafeteria, this being the
with the espresso machine and the farm-to-table philosophy and the sign that
reads, “Eat Your Enemies — And Other Food Groups.” The terrazzo floors made
with recycled glass. The 40-yard electronic track inside the weight room that
measures the force of each step and the efficiency of each run.
The coaches have their own locker room, complete with a hydrotherapy pool and steam shower, made from blue stone slate, and, of course, dozens of kinds of after-shave in front of the bathroom mirrors, which feature built-in televisions.
The good news, if there is any is that at least the taxpayers of
did not foot this bill.
The performance center was paid for through a donation from Phil Knight, a founder of Nike, an
alum and a longtime benefactor of the university. During a tour of the facility
Wednesday, university officials declined to give a dollar figure, even a ballpark
one, insisting they did not know the total cost of a football center where even
the garbage cans were picked with great care to match the overall design.
(Early design estimates placed the facility cost at $68 million, which, based
on the tour, seemed conservative.) Oregon
And contrast this with the story of Princeton All American Dick Kazmaier, who died recently. He won the Heisman (and every other) Trophy in 1951.
At 5 feet 11 inches and 171 pounds, Kazmaier looked too fragile to play high-level college football, especially in a single-wing offense that favored bruising 2-on-1 blocking. Still, he succeeded in the triple-threat role of runner, passer and punter.
As a junior and senior, he led
Princeton to undefeated
seasons and was named to most all-American teams. As a senior, in separate
player-of-the-year polls, he won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the
Walter Camp Trophy. He was voted the Associated Press athlete of the year in
1951 — ahead of Ben Hogan and Stan Musial.
And what did Mr. Kazmaier do with the rest of his life? Well he didn’t play pro football, and he went on to a rather distinguished career in which he served his country and then made himself a business success.
But football was not the focus of his life. When
dean of students told him he had won the Heisman Trophy, he recalled: “I
thought it was nice. Then I went back to class.”
Kazmaier was drafted by the Chicago Bears but declined to join the team, or any other one. Player salaries then were often less than $5,000 a year. Instead, with a degree in psychology, he pursued a master’s in business administration at Harvard, receiving the degree in 1954.
After Harvard came three years as a Navy officer. He then started a career in sports marketing and consulting, and in 1975 he founded Kazmaier Associates. He had no regrets about giving up football.
As for his attendance at
here’s how he accomplished that.
He was recruited by 23 colleges, most offering full scholarships. He chose
Princeton, where, like most athletes and
nonathletes, he received financial aid, in his case $400 a year. (Tuition was
$600.) To cover the rest of his tuition and room and board, he waited on
tables, drove laundry trucks and took summer jobs.
So your choice everyone, who is the better person, Mr. Kazmaier or some lunkhead at
Oregon? If you don’t know the right answer you are
probably a graduate of a college like Oregon
that places the value of athletics over academics, and that is why you don’t