1. nomdeplume says

    Does the priority of sport over academia in so many (all?) American educational institutions explain the mess the country finds itself in?

  2. mathman85 says

    I’ll say the same thing that I did a few days ago when one of my grad school professors posted that cartoon: I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

  3. HidariMak says

    As a Canadian, the importance to institutes of higher learning, to the constant promotion and practice of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathies to their prized fee paying students, has never made a lick of sense.

  4. a_ray_in_dilbert_space says

    My favorite (supposedly true) story along these lines was when the President of Oklahoma University went before the Leg to ask for more money because he wanted a university the football team could be proud of.

  5. chrislawson says


    I would say that the ascension of sports in American universities is not the root cause, but a very strong marker of the real problem: giving money and popularity top priority over the core values of universities.

  6. redwood says

    The basic problem of American society–money and popularity has top priority over everything.

  7. blf says

    @1, the priority of sport over academia in so many (all?) American educational institutions

    Definitely not all. Caltech, as one example, is renown for its prowess in, and priority given to, sports. Not.

  8. JustaTech says

    I agree with blf @9: There are some schools that don’t prioritize sports. Tech-centered schools (CalTech, MIT, Harvey Mudd) generally put sports well behind academics. Women’s colleges don’t have football teams (though I do think that at least some of them have other serious sports teams, but since women’s sports almost never get TV time, it’s not a big money maker).

    Personally, the problem I have with the football first, basketball second, academics last approach to higher ed is how prevalent it is at state schools. Personally, I would prefer if my education-related tax dollars went to, you know, education and not a new stadium or the football coach’s salary. It’s particularly galling given that football is know to be bad for the players’ brains, which rather defeats the purpose of education.

  9. says

    @#1, nomdeplume:

    The usual argument is that the big-name schools turn a profit off of sports, so we should turn a blind eye to how much it costs.

    The seldom-cited fact, however, is that the total gain to schools which turn a profit is less than the total loss to schools which lose money on it, and that the big-name schools can only have profitable sports programs by having a lot of unprofitable losing teams to defeat. A year or two back, somebody did the math and found that on average, three times as much money is lost by the losers as is gained by the winners, which is certainly an argument for cancelling the programs at state schools, no matter what private schools may do.