Are Sports a Waste of Taxpayer Money?

Posted: December 22, 2011 in Education
Tags: , , , , ,

I am of the opinion that college sports, and to a lesser extent high school sports, offer small academic benefits and cause more problems than their worth. I think it would be interesting to ask our big universities to open their books and demonstrate where all the money goes and prove how it benefits the academics of the institution. It won’t happen, because we have neither the political courage among our representatives, nor the interest from the zombie fans to do anything.

I came across this today and thought it very much worth sharing. Three economists from the University of Oregon have delved into this very question and the results demonstrate that college sports have a negative impact upon student’s performance. Here is the conclusion from their study:

Our estimates suggests male grades fall signi cantly with the success of the football team.

Relative to women, men report being more likely to increase alcohol consumption, to decrease studying, and to increase partying around the success of the football team. Yet, both male and female students report that their behavior is responsive to athletic success. This suggests that female performance is likely affected by the performance of the football team as well but that this effect is masked by the usual practice of grade curving.

As such, our results support the concern that big-time sports are a threat to American higher education. At the same time, we view our research as taking one of the first steps towards documenting the non-monetary costs associated with college athletics. Whether it is desirable to be investing large amount amounts of public and student money in college sports requires a broad consideration of non-monetary costs, monetary costs, in addition to the benefits that might be generated in the form of social solidarity and charitable donations.

Americans like to attack our education system, especially conservatives. Colleges are a gigantic problem, but often do not receive the needed attention. Today it seems students go for the experience, they go to party, they go to be a part of the sports, they go and have leftist professors cram false ideas in their heads, but it does not seem that they go to actually learn anything of substance. I have two degrees, but because I paid my own way through college I was there for no other reason but to better my abilities (all the while standing up against my leftist professors) and make myself more marketable.

Being in education I see the myth of sports perpetrated often. The myth is sold as this, if we don’t have sports little Billy will never learn, he’ll never get good grades. This often makes sense, until you have a young student tell you they didn’t have time to do their homework last night because they had practice. I will agree that sports do present mentors to young students in a different setting than the classroom. My wife reaped enormous benefits from her high school softball coach. I still think we need to look at what benefits we are actually receiving from these sports programs.

The problem is there’s little equity in sports when it comes to funding. The cash cow is always football and basketball at the college level. At both the high school and college level many schools are controlled by their football programs. Ever looked at what your high school pays it’s football coaches? Head football coaches often make near $70,000 or $80,000. I’m not kidding! Don’t believe me, go find the name of the head football coach in your public school, and look it up. Then there’s the facilities that we get to purchase as taxpayers, remember the most recent Liberty levy increase.

I have often said that America reflects Rome in its waning days. We are blissfully ignorant of the realities of the world around us, and we are consumed by sports. Now, granted, our sports have not gotten to the point of throwing people into a ring and having them kill one another (although, one could make the argument that UFC is just a stones throw from it), but we sure give  disproportionate attention to sports in school, and I think it’s causing larger societal problems. It’s time we reevaluate our priorities.

 

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