• September 1, 2015

Singing the Team-Spirit Blues

Singing the Team-Spirit Blues 1

William Brown for The Chronicle

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close Singing the Team-Spirit Blues 1

William Brown for The Chronicle

The message came down from central administration, and it was ominous: Meetings would be canceled for the afternoon. Staff were to go home at 2 p.m. Buildings would be shut and locked down. The campus was going into high alert.

Welcome to the start of this year's football season at the Division I powerhouse where I work.

That the university deployed "shooter on campus" protocols made a certain sense, given the festive mayhem and spirit-filled vio­lence that sometimes accom­pany our football games. Still, it took many of us faculty by surprise. After all, the directives came down on a Thursday afternoon almost three weeks before the start of the fall term. Who knew that there was a football game that night? But then the football program has always marched to the beat of its own drum major and paid little attention to the schedule the rest us follow.

For those of you who do not live in the belly of a Division I beast, I suspect you see Big-Time Sports as a seasonal cycle that alternates predictably between the next Big Game and the next Big Scandal. Perhaps you (secretly) enjoy watching the games; maybe you enjoy reading about the shenanigans even more. One way or the other, athletic competition and athletic corruption now go together like bad beer and a tailgate party.

What you may not understand, those of you who only watch the thrill of victory and read about the agony of NCAA sanctions, is that Big-Time Sports is not simply a way of life for us in the rarefied world of Division I. It is the only way of life. Sports has expanded to fill all the available space. It sucks the oxygen out of the rest of campus life.

Forget critical thinking, the wisdom of the ages, or even job skills; our undergraduate "experience" has become a never-ending pep rally where the marching band just keeps playing. What Division I behemoths really teach is: Team Spirit!

Take a walk with me down our campus drag—a dreary half-mile or so of fast-food joints, interrupted by a few head shops, convenience stores, and T-shirt outlets. If you had to pick one word to describe this strip, it would be "sticky." The stretch is punctuated at the north end by a big sports bar, and at the south by an even bigger sports bar. The first is merely a chain, of which there are probably three dozen others in town; the second is owned by one of our former football legends. That's where you want to take out-of-town visitors to impress them.

In all those establishments are more flat-screen TVs than I can count, and they are all always tuned to ESPN. I went into a copy shop not long ago but could not attract the attention of the young man behind the counter. His eyes were glued to some phase of the World Armwrestling Championship, being broadcast, I think, from one of the former Soviet republics where the sport is huge.

If you don't want to venture across the street and off campus, then head to the student union and to our very own brew pub. Woody's Tavern, a dark, cavernous establishment, takes its name from our beloved (and long dead) football coach Woody Hayes. For most of the rest of the nation, Woody will be remembered as the guy who punched an opposing player on national TV, and for being one of the few friends Richard Nixon ever had. Here, however, he was assumed bodily into football heaven and is venerated as a holy man. There are many, many flat screens at Woody's, the biggest I have ever seen. They get only ESPN.

In fairness, the Big 10—which has 11 members and will soon have 12 but can't call itself the Big 12 because that is already the name of another athletic conference, which, by the way, will soon have only 10 members—is worried about how much time its students and alumni spend watching ESPN. Not worried that those countless hours spent watching football or field hockey or those East Europeans with immense forearms might be spent doing something else. Like reading or going to class. No, the league is worried that marketing and branding opportunities are being lost.

So the Big 10 (really 11) has created its own cable network. It has 42 million subscribers. Jim Delany, the conference's commissioner, described the importance of the network this way: "It has unleashed value for us and given us options and opportunities we never had before."

That does sound exciting, although in fact I have no idea what the statement means, and I've just read it four times. But it does sound a great deal like the brainless babble one hears on ESPN.

Delany was more specific with The New York Times. "When President Obama comes to the University of Michigan, we can televise it," he elaborated. "When there are flood-relief efforts in Iowa, we can be part of that." He said all that with a straight face, and you have to admire the man's chutzpah. Far be it from me to tell him that those 42 million subscribers didn't buy the package in order to watch people sandbag the Iowa River.

If you can manage to tear yourself away from ESPN or the Big [Number to Be Determined] Network and leave campus altogether, rest assured that Big-Time Sports will stay with you, like something you can't scrape off the bottom of your shoe.

Venture to the airport, and you will find a store that sells sweatshirts, beer mugs, and other such "branded" merchandise, including DVD's of old football games, which are played incessantly in the terminal on yet another big TV. The Somali women who work at that store and who must listen to those football games over and over and over always have a look on their faces somewhere between sad and homicidal.

The first time I went to the opera in town, I made the mistake of going on the Friday night of a Big Game. Before the curtain went up on Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, the manager of the opera came onstage to lead us all in a cheer. Poor Lucia couldn't compete with that no matter how wildly she flailed around. That was also the last time I went to the opera.

Visiting a friend in a rehabilitation hospital, I discovered that the walls were festooned with sports "art" attributed to the school of the Raphael of the genre, LeRoy Neiman. The stuff itself was bad enough, but no one seemed to notice the almost macabre irony that many of the people going through rehab had sports injuries. I wondered just how much it helped their recovery to be reminded of how they got there in the first place. But the land of Big-Time Sports is an irony-free zone.

In the film The Manchurian Candidate, Frank Sinatra has a wonderfully bizarre conversation with Janet Leigh in which he says, "Columbus is a tremendous football town." That was in 1962, and local leaders here are worried that nothing much has changed about the perception of Ohio's largest city. So they've embarked on a quest to find the soul of the city, some core of civic identity beyond Big-Time Sports.

It's been a multiyear process of bringing city residents together to find a slogan. No easy feat, as Paul Astleford, director of the city's travel promotion, told the Times: "Columbus has not had a bad image. It has just had no image in the national marketplace." Except for football. Frank could have told them that.

So as football season reaches its crescendo in the finale of the bowl season, I wonder about those students who—dare I out them?—don't care. The alienated artists and aspiring scientists who thought that once out of high school and in college they might find some measure of relief from the tyranny of Team Spirit.

This is a hard time of year for them. They keep their heads low, hoping that they and their lack of enthusiasm for Big-Time Sports won't be noticed. Because if it is, then the dark side of Team Spirit might be visited upon them.

Not long age, a nursing student who is a friend of mine found herself singled out in a professor's lecture because she was not clad, as all the other nurses-in-training were, in the school colors the day before a Big Game. My friend, recently returned from the Peace Corps, had no idea what the school colors were, much less that she was required to wear them or else stand out in shame. A Division I version of Hester Prynne.

In the land of Team Spirit, we tolerate no apostates.

Steven Conn is a professor of history at Ohio State University.


1. mshannaharendt - January 03, 2011 at 06:29 am

A recent article in the Chronicle reported that the best educational investment (as measured by subsequent earnings and happiness) that one can make is to obtain a degree from a large state university with a strong football program. Is this because they also have strong History programs? Does the History program at Ohio State generate enough earnings to pay at least part of Coach Tressel's salary? Or does the football program generate enough earnings to pay at least part of Professor Conn's salary? Just wondering ...

The last time Martin and I were at Eddie George's, we just loved the Fussball Dasein. Not since our last visit to the Left Bank have we encountered such authenticity. Perhaps Professor Conn should re-read the passages in Coach Tressel's recent book, about gratitude and humilty? Touching young lives through team sports might be as worthwhile as teaching museum history. Perhaps realizing that might help Steven reconcile himself to the facticity of the High Street strip? (He might also have mentioned, for completeness of the historical record, the absolutely divine squid with chives at Moy's on High, about which Martin still raves ecstatically, when discussing gastronomisches Dasein.)

2. amcneece - January 03, 2011 at 08:02 am

Several years ago the Atlantic Coast Conference decided to have one Thursday-night football game each season. My school, Florida State University, eventually had to have a home game on Thursday night. As the date approached, the administration summoned all the deans to a meeting. The bosses had recently discovered that the students were in dire need of a "Fall Break," which would occur (quite coincidentally) on the same week as the Thursday night game. The deans were assured, of course, that the proposed "Fall Break," had nothing to do with football. Our students just needed a break from their demanding regimen of writing papers and studying for exams. So the motion passed unanimously.

Next year there was no Thursday night football game, and the "Fall Break" was abandoned. To my knowledge, no serious attempt to reinstate it has been made. Could it be that a major public university was simply trying to manipulate the academic calendar in order to schedule an athletic event? Hmmmmmm....I wonder....

3. 11159786 - January 03, 2011 at 09:28 am

This article is perfectly appropriate to my campus, Penn State. Nothing is more detrimental to the academic mission of the university than big-time football. I might have said "drinking" but there is such a strong correlation between the two that one need not distinguish. The worst aspect of this business is the typical "penalty" to the players displaying (or institutions housing) criminal mischief. ...e.g. a ban of the first few games of the following season (against rinky-dink teams). Thus, the student(s) involved can still play in bowl games. Egads!

4. pkrdo78 - January 03, 2011 at 10:33 am

Just to add to the above comment about Penn State, I would ask the poster how many Paterno family endowments exist at that fine university? In a very quick search of the university library web site, I found at least four endowments to the library alone. While I am not disputing the spirit of the original article, there are several exceptions to the author's points of frustration. Joe Paterno is certainly not your typical modern college football coach, but he is most certainly a model of what they all should be. Let's not take the worst of big time college atheletics and apply them accross the board without exception. While much of what comes with the these sports is often annoying and absurd, there are often great success stories. Dig deeper than what you see on sportscenter or in a college bar for your research!

5. ljakiel - January 03, 2011 at 10:41 am

Most athletic departments do not make their institutions money. Most of them cost much more than they bring back into the university.

6. laundrydishes - January 03, 2011 at 10:43 am

It's hard to say whether Professor Conn is attempting to identify a problem here or whether he's simply illustrating some oddities of the culture of American higher education.

As clever, evocative description, this essay is an interesting read. As criticism, it falls pretty flat.

7. mslibraryghost - January 03, 2011 at 11:01 am

I hope that #6 realizes the irony of her/his statement and appreciate the essay in both senses, a criticism and as a fun read.

I wish that Division I schools could get the idea of colon use into the Arts ["What Division I behemoths really teach is: Team Spirit!" :(]and that writers would find better tools than beginning a sentence with a coordinating conjunction (But . . . ).

8. reinking - January 03, 2011 at 11:21 am

Other examples from Clemson, my home institution: Labor Day is not a scheduled holiday on Clemson's academic calendar (after all we are in the South with its historically unenlightened views of organized labor and where Confederate Memorial Day is still an official state holiday) except a couple of years ago when all classes were cancelled on Labor Day because it happened to coincide with the first home football game. There is also a strong expectation of wearing orange attire on "solid orange" Fridays of football games. In fact, top administrators are expected to wear orange accessories almost on a daily basis. I wonder if our president ever dreams of retirement when he can get a tie for Christmas in any color other than orange. On the positive side, our president took decisive action a couple of years ago when Clemson football players engaged in an on-field brawl with rival USC players, suspending the entire team from post-season play. The USC president, as I recall, did the same. That is the kind of integrity we need to see more of. In that regard, I'd like to second the endorsement of Joe Paterno as a model that other coaches might emulate. In addition to pointing out the easy-to-find excesses, we need to call attention to the institutions and individuals who might serve as appropriate models and reinforce their decisions and actions.

9. davidcaldwell - January 03, 2011 at 11:46 am

A clear memory from my graduate school days at Ohio State was trying to park on or near campus on the morning of a Saturday when a Big Game was to be played. My objective was to reach my carrel in the library, which I believe was open, despite the Game, and work on my dissertation. A uniformed officer turned me away at a barricade in a residential neighborhood several blocks from campus. I was a new graduate student then, innocent and naive. I learned that it was too early to be admitted for Game parking, and there was no provision for being admitted to campus for any other purpose. I recall the officer's puzzled and annoyed expression when I tried to explain that I only wanted to work in the library during the morning hours and that I intended to leave campus before the Game started. This concept either made no sense to him, or he viewed claims of scholarship and research as artful ruses designed to outsmart Game Day cops and lay unfair claim to a parking space (which, like my library carrel, I thought I was paying for with my student fees).

Sadly, in my current position at a university in another part of the country, many of my colleagues who hold their degrees from Big 10 schools continue to march in lockstep with Team Spirit, regaling me on Monday mornings with a smirking remark if "their team" beat "my team," and expecting the same from me if the Buckeyes have prevailed. It's all intended in good fun, of course, but having come from a graduate program that existed figuratively and literally in the shadow of the football stadium, I still find it hard to laugh about it. I'd still rather hear about my colleagues' forthcoming articles or grant proposals than their sports affiliations. Perhaps if I had ever been made aware of any concrete fiscal benefit that the football program created for my small graduate faculty, I would feel differently; but if that was true I was never informed of it and never saw evidence of it when it came time to trim budgets.

I recognize the important and unique linkages at American universities between sports and scholarship and how athletics in college contribute to a well-rounded thinker. There is nothing wrong with cheering for the team, and we aren't in Europe. The knee jerk reaction of some colleagues who say "cut athletics" when budget reductions are discussed, is as short-sighted as axing a humanities program. I would even go so far as to say that if the activities of a humanities program ever prevent a football player, coach or fan from reaching the stadium for practice, play or spectatorship, that activity should immediately be modified to accommodate the needs of our colleagues and supporters in athletics. "What? You're only going to the football game, not to the library? Well, it's a little odd, but hey, this is a university and we offer a universe of ideas. Come right on in!"

10. cwinton - January 03, 2011 at 11:51 am

Unfortunately, Coach Paterno is 84 years old and so represents an era of collegiate sports long gone by. I suspect he is considered a role model by few if any of the modern coaching fraternity, the vast majority of whom have bought into the win at any cost philosophy now characterizing Division I football. After the recent Big-1? bowl game debacle (with or without Nebraska), hyped unmercifully by ESPN as a head to head comparison with that paragon of academic excellence, the SEC, with all the attendant big money implications for each conference, he is also among the coaches the Big-1? wigs want to see axed.

11. johnnugent - January 03, 2011 at 12:25 pm

As a graduate of the University of Iowa (undergrad) and the University of Texas (grad school), I found it pretty easy to opt-in or opt-out of these schools' big-time sports regimes whenever I wanted to. Did they corrode my own experience--or other students' educational experiences in certain ways? Maybe, but they also enhanced them in some ways as well.

12. rsinn - January 03, 2011 at 01:23 pm

Steven Conn is a professor of history at THE Ohio State University.

13. mswisher - January 03, 2011 at 01:26 pm

When I started graduate school at Ohio State in 1978 I did not even know that there was a rivalry with Michigan. In my second year at OSU I found it quite a coincidence that the Michigan game was again scheduled for the last game of the season. Go figure! But I learned fast and soon became a big Buckeye fan, and I still am. I must admit that I am greatly anticipating the Arkansas game on January 4th.

However, I always looked forward to the beginning of school in January when I felt like I was attending a real university and not just the University of Woody. While I became a big Buckeye fan, I also began to resent the identity of the institution with the football team. I never believed the argument that the football team gives the university necessary visibility, an argument put forth as well by some academics and not just by wealthy boosters. If it doesn't have visibility on its own academic merits then no gridiron glory will help. As a matter of fact, some of the most prestigious universities in the United States have no football program worth mentioning. Would their fame increase by joining the "elite" ranks of Division I football? I hardly think so. If football disappeared tomorrow at Ohio State(ok, day after tomorrow after the Arkansas game), I suspect the university would would not only survive but would also thrive.

14. laundrydishes - January 03, 2011 at 02:39 pm

mslibraryghost: Thanks for pointing out my error. I can certainly understand and appreciate how a piece of writing can be at once descriptive and critical. That oversight on my part was made in haste as I was simply attempting to communicate that, while entertaining in its description, the essay's critique is much less moving. Why? It's an all-too-familiar point of view (asserting a false dichotomy, namely, athletics and intellect) and offers little in the form of advancing a new idea (which, I think, is a hallmark of quality criticism).

15. goxewu - January 03, 2011 at 03:03 pm

I've always thought that universities with big-time football programs might balance them--and probably double their income streams--by producing copyright-protected collegiate porn videos. In terms of spectator sports, porn is in the same economic league as college football, and there's no reason why money-hungry universities shouldn't get their share of the loot.

* College "girls gone wild" are a big favorite among the beer-drinking, middle-aged tailgate guys who make up such a big part of the stadium crowd.

* In porn, women performers make the money, while the men get a lot less. This would offset the difference in privileges & perqs granted football players as compared to women athletes.

* The "character" deficiencies of the recruited women would likely be no greater than those of recruited football players. And they'd likely be no more present on the police blotter than the football players.

* Since many porn actresses come from deprived backgrounds and wouldn't otherwise get a college education, the "scholarships" affording them an education could be touted as much as the athletic department brags about the same with football players.

* The videos could be shown on the Big Whatever Number network, maybe for a premium with the Platinum subscription.

* The required medical staff would probably even be slightly smaller than that for the football teams, increasing the profit margin (or perhaps creating one, if none currently exists). And the liftetime effects of injuries sustained while fulfilling the requirements of their "scholarships" probably wouldn't be quite as bad as those of football players.

* Many professors who complain about the effect of big-time football on the academic environment and aren't sufficiently grateful for football allegedly partly paying their salaries, would probably complain less about porn paying part of their salaries.

* More possibilities for male cheerleaders.

* School-branded thongs and condoms probably wouldn't bring in as much money as jerseys, T-shirts and sweatshirts, but the school's marketing department could think of something that would.

* The LGBT community could probably get their own "teams," although they'd probably have to start out as club sports.

* The SEC, particularly the Florida schools, though, would still beat the Big10/11/12 almost all the time.

Anyway, it's just a suggestion.

16. miketabs - January 03, 2011 at 03:22 pm

Although I realize this is an opinion-piece, I must say that I am troubled by the statement, "Forget critical thinking, the wisdom of the ages, or even job skills; our undergraduate "experience" has become a never-ending pep rally where the marching band just keeps playing. What Division I behemoths really teach is: Team Spirit!"
While I am not a graduate of Ohio State (thus holding no bias), I believe this statement greatly underminds a excellent university and the author's own work at the University!

The "tyranny of team spirit?" A "Division I version of Hester Prynne?" How terrible a life one must live at The Ohio State University during football season! A colleague and graduate of OSU shared with me that she received her B.A. and Ph.D from The Ohio State University yet never attended a single football game. She dons her O-H-I-O apparel out of pride for her school and the wonderful experience she gained - football free.

17. tee_bee - January 03, 2011 at 03:56 pm

Wow, bitter much? I have always been worried/critical about/annoyed by the big-time sports activities of my various institutions (Washington, Oregon in particular). And The OSU's athletic budget is likely bigger than some SLACs' entire budgets. Yes, many football coaches are/were corrupt. Woody wasn't, but he's famous for one thing. And, yes, I've long kept the flame of the Pac-8/10/12 rivalry alive against the Big 10/really 11/really who knows? So, yes, I know that college sports can be corrupt, and corrupting. And yet I enjoy watching football and basketball. Oh well.

This passage, in particular, is so lame and so devoid of critical thinking, logic, and balance that it just cannot be taken seriously:

"What you may not understand, those of you who only watch the thrill of victory and read about the agony of NCAA sanctions, is that Big-Time Sports is not simply a way of life for us in the rarefied world of Division I. It is the only way of life. Sports has expanded to fill all the available space. It sucks the oxygen out of the rest of campus life.

Forget critical thinking, the wisdom of the ages, or even job skills; our undergraduate "experience" has become a never-ending pep rally where the marching band just keeps playing. What Division I behemoths really teach is: Team Spirit!"

Really? In a school of over 45k students, sports is all encompassing? Critical thinking has been killed by college sports? I went to a Div I behemoth, and I can guarantee that this was not my experience. Indeed, this is so over-the-top that I had to read this article twice to make sure it wasn't parody--or an April fool's joke.

I like what johnnugent said above: at a school the size of The OSU, or UW, or Minnesota, or wherever, it is possible to avoid the maelstrom of college sports. Not everywhere, and not all the time. I've been in Columbus. There are other restaurants in Columbus. I don't have to eat chicken wings on the campus strip, and neither does Prof. Conn. Are Columbus (or Eugene, or Happy Valley, or Storrs, or....) provincial hellholes? Sure. If you want them to be.

Do athletics pose challenges for our institutions? Oh, yeah. But do they yield the hellishness that Prof. Conn describes? Yes, only if you let it. There are no doubt problems, but as a call to action, or even to motivate me to care, this essay is so rife with self-pity (sports aren't convenient for me and my friends) and contempt for the opinions and desires of others that it's hard to take seriously. Yes, there always were, and always will be, cranky professors who don't like sports. This is now the paradigm example.

18. jaysanderson - January 03, 2011 at 04:25 pm

#17, I went to a Div I, SEC school and had no real negative experiences involving football. I attended a few games, went hiking in the mountains during a few games--no big deal. If I felt as strongly as the author, I would surely resign OSU in protest as a matter of principle. Either that, or just lighten up a bit. All big universities have a Ringling Bros. feel to them. Enjoy the show or find a quiet little Division III college and settle in. You might not like the pay, though...

19. sdryer - January 03, 2011 at 04:59 pm

It can be worse. Consider the machinations at a Division I school in a weak conference. At least in Columbus and at similar behemoths, athletics are revenue positive at some level (at least that seems like a good assumption from where I sit). Here at the University of Houston, where we currently play in some misbegotten conglomeration called Conference USA, the athletics program actually runs a chronic $8-9 million deficit. This has to be made up from other sources. Our relatively new president has aspirations for more, so more will be spent in search of Glory that will never come, on coaches who will never stay, on facilities that will never be adequate, on football and basketball players unlikely to graduate. Our president askes us to "wear red on Fridays", which makes me want to run away screaming everytime I hear it. It is remarkable how many Division I schools lose money on their athletic programs. Not in the Big (n) conferences or the ACC or the SEC but lots of other places, it is a really bad way to spend money. Somehow it is a lot more annoying here than it was at Tallahassee, probably because at my present school it is completely futile.

How I envy my colleagues at Washington University and Cal Tech. By the way, I love sports. I am a former NCAA athlete. But the thing morphed into an obscenity, probably long before my time.

20. jfetter - January 03, 2011 at 05:04 pm

It does not surprise me that the intellectual blac hole known as Ohio State or THE Ohio State University revolves entirely around football to the detrament of everything else. I am a graduate student at Notre dame who, yes, happens to love football and considers it a necessary and relaxing, if at times frustrating, diversion from the constant grind of dissertating. As Aristotle put it, "Anacharsis seems to be right when he advises to play in order to be serious; for amusement is a form of rest, and since we cannot work continuously we need rest." Nationally ranked (in terms of academics) universities with thriving football traditions, such as Notre Dame, strike much more of a balance between the promotion of intellectual rigor and organized sports. To be sure, most students are passionate about the team, and the over-all happiness of the student body rises or falls based on the team's performance. One can also hear the band practicing while crossing the quad--since the band is actually quite good, this is not unpleasant--good luck finding parking on game day, and if you think for a minute that athletes consider themselves accountable to their professors or take their classes seriously, then I would suggest looking for a teaching position at a much smaller school. However, I have never once felt pressure to wear school colors, the library has never been closed on game day, and since ND always plays on Saturday, the academic schedule has never been disrupted to accommodate football. Furthermore, athletes are usually smart enough to avoid taking classes in which an A is hard to come by, even if they are intellectually defective in every other respect. Additionally, Division IA football is, I am certain, responsible for a large amount of alumni giving, which, in an era of dwindling state budgets and even more rapidly dissipating interest in education in the political class, is just about the only bulwark against the complete collapse of public higher education in this country.

21. weswawa - January 03, 2011 at 06:53 pm

For the record, how much does THE Ohio State University spend on football each year??

22. duchess_of_malfi - January 04, 2011 at 06:39 pm

I'd say that TeeBee, #17, was right on all points, except that I don't believe you are real. No one could be so obtuse as to live in Columbus and not know when the first Ohio State home game of the season was happening, on the day it was happening. It must be a pose to indicate how superior and daring you are.

23. weswawa - January 04, 2011 at 07:57 pm

Answer to my own question (see #21) OSU spent $32.3 million on the football program for the school year 2008-09 and their athletic program is one of the few D-I programs in the black.

24. xveblen - January 04, 2011 at 07:59 pm

A small man who knows so much, and understands so little - all in an effort to (p)raise himself above the bourgeois.
Why must Prof. Conn belittle, and defame those who support "Big Time" college football? Does the fervor strike (y)our insecurities? How dare they enjoy something in which we do not excel? Do those brutish football players kick sand in our face? Is there a shortage of double cream lattes on game day? Have the alumni not produced enough revenue for the university to support enough of our other trivial pursuits? Will historians of the future fight to preserve Ohio Stadium while our intellectual masterpieces are laid to waste as the next generation of technology renders them obsolete? Do we not - as the intellectual heirs of Thucydides, Darwin, Voltaire, and Berekly- have the right to run The Academy as we see fit? How dare they defame the sanctity of our knowledge with their trite ritual behavior? Why should we suffer these obviously inferior (in every meaningful way) fools? When will our beautiful subjects (er, I mean students)start being attracted to US rather than THEM?

Fellows, (true fellows only - not you traitorous fans) do not despair. For the future will be ours. Let us abandon our intellectual endeavors and whine about our perceived foes and pat ourselves on the back. It will make us feel better.
History tells us so.

25. justinepeter754 - January 08, 2011 at 05:30 am

yes its very important to read the articles for the information

26. gavery - January 26, 2011 at 04:47 pm

Only 29 schools in NCAA made ANY money off of athletics last year, so the argument above about the revenue they generate makes no sense. My school put together a year or two of small profits - then decided to blow the bank on a $102 million expansion to the basketball facility (which will actually REDUCE the number of salable seats!) and half million dollar raises to the head football and basketball coaches - the former of whom has not had even a .500 season, much less a winning one, since being hired.

Meanwhile, cutbacks are being made to academic accounts, including benefit reductions for faculty and academic staff. Athletic department advocates, when confronted with complaints over the dichotomy, argue that athletic money is entirely internally generated. Three problems occur with that - a sizable proportion of the donations that fund their program would likely go to academic uses if the academic side wasn't disfavored by the linkage of tickets and game parking to athletic donations -an incentive to give to athletics rather than academics - and that the money is fungible. Trustees can take resources generated by athletics (from ticket sales, etc) and transfer it to academics. Finally, just about the only athletic programs that generate a positive cashflow are football and men's basketball (plus hockey at a few schools). When I watch our track team practicing, for example, I look at a resource-draining cost center that is essentially untouchable even as faculty positions are cut and student tuition raised.

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