Acknowledge the sports-entertainment complex

Duke University professor Charles T. Clotfelter says college faculty and administrators are wrong to ignore the “sports-entertainment complex”:

For reasons that are peculiarly American, universities here have developed commercial-sports enterprises that have no counterpart anywhere else in the world. With clear-eyed rationality, they nourish their sports enterprises year after year because, contrary to their official pronouncements, intercollegiate athletic competition is actually one of their core functions.

After all, he writes:

Google the names of your university’s president and the head football coach, and you will see who gets more coverage.

  • Anonymous

    The original article is well worth having a look at – especially for the comments.

    Although some faculty members would probably like to dump the whole athletics business, some of us are not exactly anti intercollegiate athletics, we’d just like some honesty about the finances.

    St. Thomas, St. Johns, Carleton, Auggie, … have athletics programs. But at what cost? A fair accounting for the actual cost of athletics is in order and a decision made about how much we are actually willing to spend. And let’s include student fees, retiring the debt of THTBB and all the other sneaky ways that costs are hidden. (Oh and by the way, I understand a helicopter was once again used for recruiting this year?)

    All the cards on the table at the University of Minnesota? I don’t know how many times I’ve seen it written that athletics pays for itself. And although the U administration knows this is not the case, they aren’t willing to set the record straight. And they continue to pull every stunt in the book to try to raise money for athletics on the back of academics.

    I’ll give a concrete example. Our Leader is now on the hustings for alcohol in the House That Bob Built. This after, supposedly, sitting out the last fight while having the dirty work done by others. Now he is back making noises about scholarships. The number I saw was about 20% of the projected take ($1.5 mil) if alcohol – under his rules – is going to be sold. He pays lip service to scholarships while the overwhelming majority of the money goes elsewhere. This isn’t even bait and switch.

    This kind of shilling is really getting to be tiresome. People are being laid off and the educational experience is going to hell in a hand basket. And yet the administration can find “private funds” for things like a new basketball practice arena, a new baseball field …

    And we all know why we need about 1.5 million dollars more, don’t we? If an assistant professor in the chemistry department did as bad a job teaching and doing research as the current football coach did coaching, she would be out on her ear in a couple of years…