Before I get into any of this article, I feel that this writer believes in what he is saying but is also looking for a reaction since he begins his article with this:
In which I take on the football-industrial complex, and get myself in trouble
This writer is Steven Salzberg of Forbes and his argument is that America would be much smarter if we only eliminate college football. Before even getting into the details that statement does not even make sense, because how would eliminating football at the collegiate level make America smarter. Also, why not make that same statement about any other sport? Well because college football is an easy target since due to its popularity.
Salzberg starts off his article pulling out all the punches:
The culture of football in American universities is completely out of control. It is undermining our education system and hurting our competitiveness in technology, science, and engineering. If we keep it up, the U.S. will eventually be little more than the big, dumb jock on the world stage-good for entertainment on the weekend, but not taken seriously otherwise.
Too harsh? I don't think so. I think we need to eliminate football entirely from our universities if we want to maintain our pre-eminent position as the world's scientific and technological leader.
Salzberg is insulting the fans of college football, the players and universities. Before getting into how the two are not even remotely connected, education needs to start much earlier then the college level if the United States is to continue being a top science, medical and math power.
I do not think Salzberg realizes that if not for football some people could not get into certain colleges or sometimes any college at all because of the rising costs of tuition, but Salzberg would counter that if they were so smart they could get academic scholarships. Now, he could bring up the argument of the recent catastrophe at Auburn where the not-so-smart Alabama fan Harvey Almorn Updyke who applied a lethal doses of herbicide to Toomer's Corner at Auburn where he killed off giant oak trees which are a huge part of Clemson history. And he would be right on that particular instance.
For those fans he could have a point, but for the average college football fan or even fans like myself who like to write about college football or those who scour the web for news he is way off. He makes it sound like if we all keep consuming college football we would be zombies and lower our IQ to the point of needing help wiping the drool of our chins.
Has Salzberg even bothered to look into what Penn State head coach Joe Paterno has done at Penn State on the academic side? My guess is no. Paterno has graduated the second most college football players at 78 percent which is 11 percent above the average college football student and only second to Northwestern. After Joe Patterno's 400th win Nike donated $400,000 to the Penn State's libraries. While this speaks specifically to college football teams themselves and noto the genearl public, but it does bring to the forefront that some schools do care about education.
One thing that he should look into is that football supports all of the non-revenue sports and brings in money to schools academic side as well. When teams excel in sports it is proven that donations increase and yes most are toward the football program, but it also brings in money to academia as well. Plus, applications to said school increases when a school's football team has a good season, and that brings in more money since it costs money to apply to a college.
If football was eliminated there would be some schools that would actually lose money toward academics, because believe it or not, some of the what the school gets from the BCS, television money or sponsorship money put the money back into the academic side of the university.
An example of this is the new Texas Longhorn network where five of the 10 million dollars in the first year are earmarked for academics, and throughout the length of the deal a significant amount is to be earmarked toward academics.
He then goes on to say this:
All of this effort goes to the care and feeding of a very small number of (exclusively) male students, most of whom get a poor education and almost none of whom succeed as professional players. Our universities are providing a free training ground for the super-wealthy owners of professional football teams, while getting little in return.
While I agree that the NFL takes advantage of the college system as a minor league system just so they don't have to shell out the money to start up their own. Then he grossly lumps every football player into the category of getting a poor education. There are high profile cases of football players who fail out or can't read at a junior high level, but they keep getting passed along because they are good at football, but that is a rare exception.
Also, he is lumping in all divisions of college football from NAIA to the top of the BCS? He later goes on to mention the Ivy league which does not provide scholarships for their football team, yet are the top institutions in the United States. Well that is their decision to make academics a priority over athletics, and it was made years ago. Plus, does he realize those schools were already upper echelon in academics all while Harvard, Yale and Princeton were very good college football teams.
Why does he pick on football? Why not go after all sports and eliminate the sport distraction at the college level, or even yet go even further and eliminate sports all together so that we can all work on studies. This bad argument could be made out of a million different things from video games or internet use as a way to prove his point.
The argument is hollow and a guy who has a platform at a major news site is just writing an opinion piece to get a rise. He seems to go more after the players