This sentence could come from a contemporary American commentary on the Kaplanization of our once-great universities; or it could come from a contemporary American commentary on the NFLization of our once-great universities.

This particular sentence happens to be about the sporty arm of the pincer movement; and coming as it does from Texas, of all places, it tells you something. It tells you something about why immense new Adzillatronned university football and basketball stadiums are full of gaping holes during even the biggest games… Why a growing branch of the digital and design industries is now devoted to making an empty silence look like a crowded blow-out on network tv…

The author of this commentary is telling you why people are leaving the American university stadium, but you don’t want to listen because you know that the problems are too basic to fix.

If college football is just entertainment, and entertainment is just a product, and products are created to make money, then I start to feel a little silly investing emotional energy in the A&M – LSU game. More and more the institution carries the distracting odor of a swindle. It’s hard to tell whether I’m the mark or whether I’m in on the grift.

… It’s hard to say what should happen with college football. Paying the players would certainly be fairer, but it would finish off whatever remains of an institution that once meant far more than money. The arcane rules put in place to protect college athletics from market forces have spawned a densely complex culture of cheating, a tradition almost as old as the sport. How long can Universities, bastions of enlightened rational values, continue this charade? What toll is it taking on the wider goals of those institutions?

College football may be a necessary casualty of a freer, more prosperous world. We are all likely to cling to the remains at least a little while longer. Maybe someday (next year?), when the Longhorns’ helmets are sporting a giant BestBuy logo and the program is playing two additional highly-paid exhibition games each year against the likes of Abilene Christian and the fighting Javelinas of A&M Kingsville we’ll finally have to give it up.

Try his first paragraph this way:

If a college education is just entertainment, and entertainment is just a product, and products are created to make money, then I start to feel a little silly investing emotional energy in the game. More and more the institution carries the distracting odor of a swindle. It’s hard to tell whether I’m the mark or whether I’m in on the grift.

Except that in the Kaplanization case, it’s not just emotional energy that’s lacking when the professor is a coached happy face on a jiggly screen full of funny little games. It’s also of course intellectual energy.

Stadium seats will go the same way as classroom seats: Eventually all university activity will jiggle on-screen. Imagine the University of Phoenix with a sports channel.

Trackback URL for this post:
http://www.margaretsoltan.com/wp-trackback.php?p=42254

3 Responses to ““The value of the institution is being compromised at every level in order to pursue ever greater revenue opportunities.””

  1. JND Says:

    “Enjoy discussion, updates, rants and more Red Raider bashing at the GOPLifer blog.”

    Hey! That’s the author’s problem: he or she has made fun of Texas Tech.

  2. theprofessor Says:

    Out of boredom (we play some D-III patsies before we start our D-I schedule and get the crap kicked out of us), I made a fairly hard count of student attendance at one of our last home basketball games. Excepting the approx. 15 pep band members (attendance is required for them), a dozen cheerleaders, and a couple of student trainers, there were a total of 39 students in the student section. The announced attendance in the 10,000+ arena was 4300; in reality, there could not have been many more than 3000 present.

  3. GTWMA Says:

    “What toll is it taking on the wider goals of those institutions?”

    The notion that the goal of the athletics program overlaps in any way, much less is just a subset of the “wider goals” is a common mistake. The better question may be: “What toll is it taking on the appropriate goals of the University?”

Comment on this Entry

Latest UD posts at IHE

Archives

Categories