…or call it a philosophy…

As university students abandon football, coaches and presidents have at the very least a rhetorical problem. They will never of course drop football, because they can always make a profit sending their players out to play one massively losing game after another for the money. On the other hand, the fact that, for instance, at Central Michigan University, “[o]nly 102 students attended the last home game against Eastern Michigan,” does sort of need to be dealt with. The stadium’s capacity is 30,199. That was a home game.

So, you know, some new philosophy, some new rhetoric, some new position-taking is going to have to happen in response to – uh – queries about this situation. Here’s the CMU athletic director (salary: close to $300,000 a year):

“Does it matter if you have no one at your game, or 15,000, or 110,000?” Heeke asked. “Does that somehow deem [sic] that you shouldn’t play football at this school because you can’t reach 15,000? [Like a lot of schools, CMU fudges like mad to pretend to the NCAA that it meets the minimal attendance standard.] If the school makes the decision to play football, why should it matter? It’s their decision how they want to manage the game and what they think their expectation is and what makes it a viable program.”

See, to UD, this is where things start to get interesting on the American university campus. This is where there’s suddenly an intellectually generative convergence between things like philosophy and literature – as in those famous lines at the end of Wallace Stevens’ “The Snow Man”

… the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

– and the sports program. These are difficult, paradoxical lines, easily seen, now, as expressing what you see when you look at the nothing that is Kelly/Shorts stadium.

What does it matter, asks the AD, if there is nothing?

If a quarterback falls in Kelly/Shorts, does it make any sound?


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7 Responses to “UD has been waiting for this comment…”

  1. JND Says:

    102! Hey, we do much better than that at our DIII school here in the hinterlands.

  2. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Congrats, JND.

  3. Stephen Karlson Says:

    There’s an internet article identifying the low returns to arts and education degrees at a number of public universities. A large number of the universities so identified belong to the Mid-American (Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Bowling Green). Those universities also appear on the list of institutions with the largest athletic fees imposed on students as a condition on enrollment.

    And yet Massachusetts had a try-out in the Mid-American, and perseveres with its football experiment, despite the larruping it has received from the directional Michigans as well as Northern Illinois.

  4. Dave Stone Says:

    With all due respect, I think you buried the lede:

    “Meanwhile, 8,000 season tickets were consistently sold at each home game, in large part due to 5,528 season tickets sold to young alumni, retirees, and Central Michigan college client, IMG. According to Central Michigan Athletics, 5,500 of those tickets were sold to IMG.”

  5. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Dave: Yes, you’re right. My eyes popped out at that, and I totally forgot to feature it…

  6. MattF Says:

    If attendance is zero, does the game really exist? Perhaps we need a theory of the Quantum Football Vacuum– it only exists when no one is observing.

  7. Mr Punch Says:

    What’s happening to college football is exactly what critics of MOOCs fear they will do to academic programs.

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