Some years ago, I asked a professor at an American university who had grown up in New Zealand what he thought about the mania for sports on our campuses. He said that it surprised him since, in his native land, students went to university to study, not to play sports.
While some of our colleges and universities have avoided getting entangled with big-time sports and an even smaller number have gotten out (most notably, the University of Chicago), most of them are hotbeds of football and basketball. That’s a costly mistake, argues Laurence Peterson, dean emeritus at Kennesaw State University, in today’s Martin Center article.
Why? Because the emphasis on winning detracts from the educational mission of colleges and universities while at the same time adding considerably to the cost, some of which is dumped on students who have little or no interest in how “their” teams are doing.
Peterson writes, “Universities that thrive in the mid-21st century most likely will be those that shed the albatross of intercollegiate sports and refocus on their educational mission. Downsizing intercollegiate sports will significantly reduce college costs, improve the quality of education, and produce a corresponding increase in the value of a university degree. Naysayers need to understand that intercollegiate sports on university campuses were misguided from the beginning and serve no role in university education.”
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