I’d say that’s more myth than reality. It’s the kind of thing politicians like to say, but there’s little supporting evidence.
It’s called capitalism. Not that capitalism leads to sports, but that there is an innate sense of competition in humans and especially in Americans. I was trying to support why Americans are so interested in sports, and I believe its their desire for competition which is somewhat greater than most countries.
Well, that’s sort of basic economic dogma â€” but what is the perceived utility, in this case? An enhanced sense of self-worth by participation in a community?
Who knows. That’s the point. People do, and will continue to, spend billions on athletics because it is important in some way to them. Whether they like a certain individual, the sport in general, the team, or just drinking beer while watching football players go at it, it can’t be narrowed down to a single reason. But to say that the money is being wasted because a universal reason can’t be found isn’t the way to go about it.
No, but I’d credit the Permanent Endowment for that. UT has the largest endowment of any university system in the world â€” in 1876, they initially got a million acres of apparently worthless land… in west Texas, where they struck oil in 1894.
I wasn’t trying to include UT for its specific circumstances, but thank you for the quick education as I wasn’t aware of that history. I guess my broader point is this: would UT, or most universities, be the same university without its athletic programs? Obviously not, and I believe that quality would be less without athletics. Athletic money doesn’t have to go to academic causes to increase quality. For any school without an athletic program, what is the effect on alumni involvement, overall student recruitment (not just athletes), corporate involvement, etc. by not having a program? Obviously, I’m not looking for an answer to that question. I’m trying to say that due to the many intangible benefits afforded by an athletic program, it is not wise to dismiss athletics, in general, as detrimental to a university because jocks in jocks are bad, dumb, and stuff. You made the comment that athletics detract from the quality of a university. Two questions:
It’s called capitalism.
Then most of the western world is “built on competition”. It’s the “especially American” part I think is bunk.
would UT, or most universities, be the same university without its athletic programs?
They might be different, but where we clearly differ is that I think they’d be better universities. Universities are about learning, not winning bowl games.
For any school without an athletic program, what is the effect on alumni involvement, overall student recruitment (not just athletes), corporate involvement, etc. by not having a program? Obviously, I’m not looking for an answer to that question.
But some of this has been studied. Here’s a paper that suggests a successful football team (but not a successful basketball team) has a small positive impact on academics. I’m a little suspicious, because I don’t think they controlled well for issues like curriculum differences.
Another paper suggests that, while successful athletics programs have a positive effect on alumni donations (but not much effect on donations from other sources), the overall effect is much smaller than having quality faculty and students.
I’m trying to say that due to the many intangible benefits afforded by an athletic program, it is not wise to dismiss athletics, in general, as detrimental to a university because jocks in jocks are bad, dumb, and stuff.
Conversely, it’s “not wise” to assume they’re beneficial. There are just as many intangible detriments. Those “benefits” don’t much accrue to losing schools, so the pressure to win at sports means the jocks are often given preferential treatment. Interview students at any school with a winning team and you’ll find lots of stories of the jock who never comes to class and has the TA take his exams.
The cheating and illegal recruitment scandals that have always troubled collegiate sports don’t improve the situation.
Have you been involved in sports and to what level (just curious)?
I think it’s irrelevant, but I played varsity tennis and golf in high school, and played football and basketball up through middle school. I got sick of the “jock” mentality of the football and basketball world about then, and just lost interest in the others when I went to college. I was a competitive swimmer from age nine through high school.
A few years after college, I started doing Aikido pretty intensively for a few years. Shortly after I got married, I ended up moving for work and that fell by the wayside.
I’ve never been a “jock”, by any stretch, but I’m not the asthmatic kid who sat in the library, either.
Please describe how an athletic program systematically detracts from the quality of a university?
I think I touched on a lot of that above. Universities are for learning — for the nerds, not the jocks. The kind of special treatment given the jocks to protect their playing status is bad for the academic mission. The scandals from cheating and other poor behavior from sports teams damage the reputation of the university.
It’s not worth the cost.
If you’re going to have a group of people who don’t have to meet the same academic standards as the main student body, then it’s offensive to the real students to pretend that they’re actually part of the student body.
Welcome! OmniNerd's content is generated by nerds like you. Learn more.