Wednesday, October 3, 2012

REASON 6: College Sports

New state-of-the art sports stadium: $250 million

The quality of your education going down the drain: Priceless

Do you care about the quality of academics at your school?  

Did you apply to college to get away from those annoying jocks and cheerleaders in high school?  

Do you spend more time at the library than at the gym?

Do you believe that higher education should be about more than tailgating, bonfires, and fuzzy school mascots?

Then do yourself a favor and don't go to college.

Whether you're a sports fan or not, the influence of college athletics is ubiquitous.  Unless you attend an Ivy League institution, you will find that most people won't care about your school's academic reputation or stellar graduate programs.  Instead, the value of your education will be judged solely by the quality of your school's sports program.  

When you talk to strangers, you'll spend more time highlighting last week's game than discussing the classes you take.  If your school's sports teams suck, no one outside of your state will recognize your school's name.

College sports is a double-edged sword that devalues your school's academic reputation while increasing its notoriety.  Few will care or even hear about the honors awarded to faculty or the research breakthroughs pioneered at your university.  But you will be held collectively responsible for the next athletics scandal.  As future employers look over your resume, they'll remember your football team's stripper recruiting party that made national headlines.  After your school loses that big game against your all-time rivals, the riot that follows will cause the locals of your college town to silently curse the ground your university was built on.

The impact of college athletics extends beyond school prestige.  These meaningless games that you care little about will effect your daily experience as a student.

Even if your university has a mediocre sports program, coaches and athletics directors will be paid far more than your professors.  The average football coach can expect a $1 million salary.  In 2011, while universities were cutting back on tenured academic positions and paying adjunct professors peanuts, 21 public universities gave coaches 6-digit bonuses.  It doesn't take a Rhodes Scholar to recognize how these disparities in compensation just might drain the morale of college educators.

A quick campus tour will confirm that your university values its Division standings over your education.  While your classes are getting larger (See Reason 4) and your school's library is cutting back hours, your university will miraculously come up with $250 million for a brand new football stadium.  While the size of your academic merit scholarship continues to decrease, the football team will spend the next four years partying it up on full-ride scholarships.  

But the biggest slap in the face comes when you look at your tuition bill.  Each year anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars will be tacked on to your bill to help cover the costs of these expensive athletics programs.  The money that you would have spent on student fees so that your university can build new basketball courts would stretch a lot further in a program of self-study (See Reason 1).  If you would prefer to spend your money on an a real education rather than sports, consider skipping college altogether. 

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