Friday, December 2, 2011

College is more than football


College football enthralls. Grand traditions, bands, mascots and intense and sometimes vicious rivalries are its hallmarks. College football is a big-money sport getting bigger.

Some stadiums hold more than 114,000 spectators. Some athletic budgets have soared to more than $100 million. And it seems to be getting even bigger, with bigger conferences, bigger television contracts on bigger networks and conference championships benefiting the universities and their athletic departments.

With so much money and so many people, what we have is just another institution that claims that it is "too big to fail." But football, and sports in general, should never be given that kind of immunity.

No educational institution should make it a prime responsibility to win the national championship or a BCS bowl. As President Obama said, "We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair."

Fans of both sports and education find it difficult to admit that they would rather watch Boise State's amazing quarterback, Kellen Moore, than listen to one of the several Nobel laureates who have given lectures on the campus. That's OK as long as the university doesn't give up the laureates in order to keep the quarterback.

Universities do not need to have a football team to be a university. If no one asks, and measures how the hullabaloo surrounding big-time football is affecting the goals and purposes of the university in all its other aspects, then their leadership has already failed, and so have those of us who are fans of both football and universities.




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