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Athletics and Higher Education

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What effect do major sports have on universities?

Make them better
2
15%
Neutral effect
4
31%
Make them worse
7
54%
 
Total votes : 13

Athletics and Higher Education

Postby edonnelly » Sat Sep 24, 2005 2:25 pm

It turns out that the textkit-famous Dowling (of the Dowling method for learning Latin) was recently the leader of a group trying to get his university (Rutgers) out of division IA athletics. He feels big-time sports "guts a university" and that because if it there "is now a whole industry in dumbed down college textbooks, which are written down to the eighth-grade level with very simple sentences and words." (He's discussed in this Sports Illustrated article: Rutgers football facing a struggle -- on and off the field from a few years ago.)

I'm curious about two things:

(1) Do the visitors to this (scholarly) site think that "big time" college athletics detracts from the academic mission of a university

and

(2) What's the situation outside of the US? I'm sure the elite universities don't have this issue, but what about some of the really good, but maybe not absolute elite places (however that might be defined)?

As I've said before, I'm a Vandy guy. Around the same time as the Rutgers stuff was in the news, Vanderbilt, in a highly controversial and much publicized move, got rid of its Athletic Department (see, for example Vanderbilt athletics turns in a new direction: Athletic Director dismissed as Gee brings varsity sports under the Office of Student Athletics, Recreation and Wellness).

I like the approach Vanderbilt has taken -- to better incorporate the student athlete into the rest of the student life types of activities, while still emphasizing the importance of athletics. Ironically, while it had produced a huge amount of "this is the end of Vanderbilt athletics" doomsayers at the time, the university has had some of its best athletic success since the change happened.
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Postby yadfothgildloc » Sat Sep 24, 2005 4:02 pm

I'm under the impression that the money brought in by big sucessful sports teams pays for a great deal of university expenses. OSU (Ohio State University), near me, makes 50 million USD, my roomate tells me, from only their football program. In that regard, they often might be necessary to run the university.

But, I think they detract from the academics. It's a two edged sword.
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Postby Emma_85 » Sat Sep 24, 2005 4:35 pm

I don't know... it depends how much the university spends on sport. They need some sport, I mean, the students have to keep fit and a bit of rivalry between the universities in the sport department is also not a bad thing. The academic achievements of the unis will always be more important really. It would only be a problem if the uni does not have that much money and is wasting it on sports. If for example a state uni spent loads on building a new sports stadium, when they already have a perfectly good one that is just a little old... then that's wrong I think, unless they really have cash to burn. Then again... new sports facilities are nice... :lol:[face=SPIonic][/face]
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Re: Athletics and Higher Education

Postby Misopogon » Sat Sep 24, 2005 5:22 pm

edonnelly wrote:
(2) What's the situation outside of the US? I'm sure the elite universities don't have this issue, but what about some of the really good, but maybe not absolute elite places (however that might be defined)?



As far as Italy is concerned, I can say that the problen doesn't exist. Most or maybe all, the university have sport facilities, but the games and athetics don't attract public, not only outside the University but even among the students (just the players' girl/boyfriends and friends). Some students join the university teams only to get some exercise in the free time, as an hobby, and other ones join private sport associations outsides the university. Usually the sport departements lack money and resources and joining the university is not the usual path for an athlet.

So I have no opinion about this issue. Anyway I suppose that in US, if a university has got some strong teams, it can attract money from the general public and the investors: if so, it could be that such resources benefit everyone, not just the sport depts. Am I right?
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Postby Emma_85 » Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:03 pm

yadfothgildloc wrote:I'm under the impression that the money brought in by big sucessful sports teams pays for a great deal of university expenses. OSU (Ohio State University), near me, makes 50 million USD, my roomate tells me, from only their football program. In that regard, they often might be necessary to run the university.

But, I think they detract from the academics. It's a two edged sword.


I'm quite sure no universities here make that much money from sports! I think all they do is spend money on it, never make any money. It seems the system is totally different.
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Postby edonnelly » Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:39 pm

yadfothgildloc wrote:OSU (Ohio State University), near me, makes 50 million USD, my roomate tells me, from only their football program.

I don't the numbers for Ohis State, but what you quote doesn't surprise me. In addition, there are huge amounts at stake from wealthy alumni who have high expectations from the sports programs, and threaten to withhold contributions if things are not done a certain way.

But it's exactly that huge amount of money at stake that leads to the potential for problems. Universities are accused of lower admission standards, grading athletes differently, and even helping their athletes to cheat. Is it OK to try to win at all costs (even at the cost of academic credibility)?
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Postby Yhevhe » Tue Sep 27, 2005 2:36 am

edonnelly wrote:Universities are accused of lower admission standards, grading athletes differently, and even helping their athletes to cheat.

Those three things are so true for Ven. I know people that had very bad grades in highschool, but just by the fact they practiced some sport, not only did they get inmediatly into the Uni, which is hard by itself, but they studied for free in any career they chose, even medicine, which generally requires high grades.

I hate... :evil:
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Postby GlottalGreekGeek » Tue Sep 27, 2005 6:28 am

Would you know, I wrote an essay on this topic for my ACT exam (though talking about high school level sports, not university level). At the middle school and high school level, I solidly support school athletics, provided it does not get carried away. For some students, the field is a better place than the classroom to learn essential life lessons such as discipline, practice makes perfect, and responsibility, and I think schools should accomodate as many students' ways of learning as possible. Sports is excellent for school pride, and students need to feel a certain pride in their school to get the most out of what it has to offer. Lastly, sports gives a passion to students who may not be terribly interested in academics (so it keeps them interested in school).

I do not know enough about university level sports to have much or an opinion beyond the ways it is similar to middle school and high school sports.
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Postby classicalclarinet » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:06 pm

students need to feel a certain pride in their school to get the most out of what it has to offer


How? Does it make a difference in what the student learns?
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