Thursday, July 16, 2009

Academic View of College Sports

As a participant in a club sport (ultimate, of course], which was almost entirely self-funded, and as a professor that has seen vast sums of money thrown into the varsity sports programs--well, football and basketball at Texas Tech, I have never been a big fan of college sports. I have viewed it as too easy to twist the mission of the university so that the collegiate sports tail wags the education dog.

And now we find that colleges and universities vary quite significantly in how they take care of their athletes when they are hurt.

“That’s part of the cost of having an athletic program,” said David Dranove, a professor of health industry management at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. “It makes no more sense to tell the athletes, ‘You go buy your own health insurance,’ than it does to say, ‘You go buy your own plane tickets and uniform.’ ”

I would say that I am surprised, but not really. Colleges and universities that do make money off of their athletic programs have always been hypocrites--that their coaches can make large sums of money (larger than any prof and more than many college presidents), and can flit from university to university with little sense of job loyalty while the athletes may get scholarships that have no real guarantees and face rules that make it very hard for them to leave bad situations. It is definitely a coach's game, but they are not the ones getting hurt.

I have not gotten a good grasp of how this stuff works in Canada, but my sense is that the priorities here are not as twisted--that sports are NOT the first things to come to mind when we think about any of the universities here.

1 comment:

Juliet Johnson said...

Let me plug my alma mater, Stanford. I wrecked my ACL while on the varsity fencing team my senior year. Stanford paid for the best orthopedic surgeon in the area to fix it and for full rehab in its fabulous sports medicine facilities. They even gave me a golf cart to drive around campus in after my surgery. Never saw a single bill - and all this for a student in a sport that gave no scholarships at the time.