Vindicated! At least, somewhat...

A couple weeks ago, I was engaged in a long, heated debate with a couple of friends (they're still friends, actually) about the role of sports in academia. I took (and take) the position that having sports so dependent on the academy (high schools, colleges) is bad for sports, and worse for schools. In brief:

It creates a needless burden on already overburdened schools, especially financially.

It does nothing to help students to become more educated, or help the majority of students to become more fit - the only people becoming fit are the athletes, a small percentage of the students, and I think that this over-fit group discourages the majority of the students, since they see themselves as separate from this group. It is, like geekdom, a species of over-specialization.

I also think it possible that many people (and many sports) suffer from athletes being forced to do academic work, especially in college.

The presence of some athletes also, I believe, holds down the general intelligence of classes, making it harder for others to learn.

One of the main arguments I heard against this was "but Americans would hate seeing the college sports disappear" beside being aside the point, I think this may already be happening, which is why finding this post was so helpful:

Prep hoops star skips college, heads to Europe for a year

Never have I found a sports news item such a happy discovery.


John Jones said...

I agree with a lot of your points here, but I count myself as one of those people who would be sad if college sports disappeared. I think the NCAA needs to drop the pretension that big-time sports (football and basketball) are secondary to academics and start treating them like what they are—extremely lucrative businesses. They should figure out a way to pay the athletes and create a path for those athletes to get meaningful educations when their playing days are over.

Wallis said...

I would certainly be happy with putting the academics after the athletics in chronology - many athletes I know who had no interest in academics during their college years suddenly discover an interest in academics when they can't bank on athletics anymore.

The only difficulty is that very few sports teams (especially on the college level) (http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/2008/edition_07-20-2008/Intelligence_Report) not the best general source of information, I admit, but an interesting article) actually make money, given, if they weren't getting a budget from the school, they might be a bit more careful in how they spend it.