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Buzz Bissinger: Why College Football Should Be Banned

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by LongTimeListener, May 6, 2012.

  1. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member


    An oft-debated topic, to be sure, but his name and the venue (Wall Street Journal) might draw some attention. It's about only the coaches benefiting, students get shafted as universities crumble, players exploited, etc. etc. etc.

    My two cents:

    1) On merit he's right. There is no plausible reason colleges should have football teams -- or any sports really, certainly not any sports that are going to affect the bottom line or the educational mission.

    2) Good luck with that.
  2. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

  3. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    James Michener outlined this entire basic argument in "Sports In America," which came out in the mid-1970s.

    Essentially he said that institutions of higher learning subsidizing semiprofessional sports franchises was crazy, and it was, and it is.

    Nothing happened then and nothing will happen now.
  4. Raiders

    Raiders Guest

    It beats soccer.
  5. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    Why just college football? Why not the entirety of the athletic departments?

    We know about the exploitation, we know it's a business. It's also a way that a LOT of kids who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford college get college degrees. Gale Sayers did a speech to a couple of local HS football teams a decade ago before a game, and the theme of it was "they're going to use you, so use them to get a degree and do something with your life."

    Now, back up a little bit. I follow a Div. III school -- one that has a pretty solid football program. There is no question that football has raised the profile of the school both inside its community and in the region. It has also provided an opportunity for students to play the game -- and be students first and athletes second. Not only that, but it also helps keep the college going -- literally 1/4 of the male student body is on the football team (it's a school of about 1,000 students, about 125 dress for the varsity or JV team). They play in relative anonymity compared to the major Div. I schools, but they are playing football with no expectation that any will go to the NFL. The local NAIA school that offers about 24 schollies has used football to entice students, and has been ranked in the top 10 most of the last couple of years.

    It's one thing to say "ban college football," and another to say "maybe we should dial this back a little bit." Possibly end the ruse of college sports being a free minor league, ending/limiting/curtailing athletic scholarships and the like and trying to make the teams more like the student body, but that would eliminate a LOT of opportunities for students in need to use their athletic talents to get an education.
  6. lcjjdnh

    lcjjdnh Well-Known Member

    Why not use the money we waste on all college athletics to support students with academic talents instead? There are plenty of people in need--why favor the ones that happen to be good at sports?
  7. Boom_70

    Boom_70 Well-Known Member

    I never finished that book and I picked it up in the 70's when it first came out. I now keep by by bedside as a snooze aid.
  8. Raiders

    Raiders Guest

    I'd give up fruits and vegetables before I gave up college football. Oh, wait, I already have.
  9. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    1. There's nothing inheriently wrong with a college (or a high school for that matter) having sports. It has positive benefits.

    But the problem is, society prioritizes it too highly, to the point where the school's mission becomes compromised, and the community suffers as a whole. Who cares if the millionaire coach hires a blonde secretary who happens to be his mistress, a dozen players get arrested for various offenses including rapes, and a student assistant dies because he's afraid to come down from a scaffold on a windy day? It's all about wins.

    The Ivy League and D-III have it right. Competition is important. Watching the games are fun. Winning is great. But it's not the be-all, end-all of the world. D-I football and men's basketball have been perverted into professional sports with colleges as their fronts and the athletes not getting paid.

    2. Absolutely true.
  10. Starman

    Starman Well-Known Member

    Michener's dream-world proposal, as I recall, was that the universities wishing to run semiprofessional-level sports programs could continue to do so under the following guidelines:

    1) The "college sports franchises" could continue to use the university's name, logos, colors, facilities, etc etc. Financing of the sports operation would be completely separate from the educational institution. No money from the general educational funds would be spent on athletics (other than nominal sums on non-revenue sports discussed below).

    2) Players would receive nominal payment, comparable to an entry-level full-time job (I think in the mid-70s when this came out he cited the figure of $20K, today it would probably be about 40K), and full medical coverage. They would be eligible for four years (this came out at the dawn of the redshirting era). Roster sizes would be bigger than professional rosters but smaller than current D-1 levels.

    3) Players would be neither required or expected to attend class, at all. Some kind of discounted tuition plan could be worked out for athletes at individual schools but that would be strictly an institutional decision. With no academic requirements to become or remain eligible, all incentives for academic cheating instantly disappear. If athletes were qualified and able to take classes and earn degrees, good for them, but there would be no expectation they must do so.

    4) All other college sports, i.e. the "Olympic" or non-revenue sports, would be run strictly on the Division III/high school model: no scholarships, extremely limited regional conferences, nominal ticket prices. The highest financial aspirations for these teams would be to defray operational costs.

    There was also some stuff in there about working out some deal where the professional leagues would compensate the college sports franchises for players on a set scale -- I don't remember the details. There would be set payments depending on draft position and a nominal base rate for undrafted free agents. I think this money theoretically was supposed to come out of bonus money currently paid to college draftees.

    I don't remember how the whole process of high school recruiting was supposed to be handled. I think there was supposed to be some kind of reciprocal draft arrangement in which both the college sports franchises and the players themselves were supposed to issue lists of mutual interest: for instance, football players could issue a list of six schools they were interested in attending, and the college franchises could issue their own list of 100 players in which they had potential interest. Players would then choose from the double matches.
  11. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    Murray Sperber was one of my profs at Indiana, and made an entire career out of basically making the same argument.

    I understood the academic merits -- and my interest in big-time college sports has waned quite a bit in the last few years -- but it's a bit of an intellectually-false argument.

    Students who have need to get in academically who are good students will get in regardless. A lot of athletes who go to college might not be students who would get academic schollies, and in some cases, might not be accepted if they weren't 6-6, had a 4.35 40 time and possessed soft hands, but they *use* their God-given abilities to get themselves an education that otherwise might not be available to them.

    Bissinger noted that 43% of Div. I schools (that includes FCS) lose money on their football programs, which obviously means 57% *MAKE* money off their football programs, and therefore can use that to subsidize scholarships for other athletes, create jobs for people in the community (coaches, SIDs, event workers, et al) and in some cases, plow it back into the university. If you look at minor-league teams in any sport, you'd be hard-pressed to find 57% consistently turning a profit.

    My biggest issue is the arms race and the lack of competitive balance. What I foresee eventually happening is the *major* programs -- Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Florida, et al -- decide it's time to stop subsidizing Vanderbilt and Northwestern and Wake Forest, break away from the NCAA and form their own organization. Then, the schools left reduce the number of scholarships to FCS levels, reduce FCS to Div. II levels and eliminate Div. II entirely, and we'll see a lot of the power in college sports kept in the hands of about 25 schools. Or, Ohio State will realize their fans will have a mutiny if they don't see 10 wins a year, and realize that won't happen if they have to play Texas and Alabama instead of Northwestern and Minnesota, and keep the status quo because their position in the arms race guarantees the .900 winning percentage that keeps the alumni off their backs and keeps the donation dollars flowing.
  12. Raiders

    Raiders Guest

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