The image of college athletes has become heavily stereotyped. And more often than not, these stereotypes are presented through jokes especially in movies. We see college athletes (more commonly known as “jocks”) exhibits exceptional physical capabilities but below average intelligence. Even though these kind of jokes exist, people very rarely question why sports and college are so interconnected. College and sports appear to be inseparable twin brothers inside the psyche of the public. This paper recognizes the lack of skepticism in the relationship of college and sports. Sports should be eliminated in college and academic institutions should focus more on academics nonetheless.
Setting up this argument is indeed a difficult task. Since the time of ancient learning, academics and sports find their way to intersect each other. If we would review history, Greek intellectuals and Greek sports (like in the early olympics) was just as popular as each other. However, the balance was somehow became lopsided over the centuries. Championships in college sports became the object of glory of universities. In the colleges of today, a high-scoring baller would have an exponentially larger admirers than a scholar who propose a new theory of the origin of the universe. This lopsidedness also adds to the reasons why the existence of sports in the academic community should be challenged.
But of course, college sports is not all negative aspects. Actually, there are many strong positive points to college sports that made it indispensable in the academe: Good health and an active lifestyle is of course on the side of maintaining college, Winning championships of course will give pride to the students and the school gets a positive reputation, The virtues attributed to sports like sportsmanship, perseverance, determination, etc are of course good for building one’s character, Exceptional ballers gets the coveted chance to play on the professional level, The list go on and on. But what most people do not see in these items is that these things are not all positive. Moreover, it should be noted that these items are not and should not be the priority of a learning institution.
College Sports as a Distraction to the Academics
It is common in universities that they require their college athletes to maintain a certain grade point average. Failing to meet these requirements would often result to the prohibition for the college athlete to join the athletics team. That is with the thinking that the failing college athlete would focus more on his or her studies. This is what the public knows about the system. This arrange is like one big open secret in the world of college sports. Of course there are exceptional athletes but hopeless in their studies. Would coaches let their best players off the team just because of a failing grade point average? That is very unlikely and uncharacteristic of coaches. People would not think its impossible if “under the table” arrangements are practiced among coaches and teachers. However it may sound offensive, it is just not that convincing that every college athlete maintains the required grade point average, especially the top scorers for the time.
One often overlooked issue is the time that college athletics require. And the large amount of time that college sports demand does not only apply to the student, but also to the other constituents of the school like the cheerleaders, student audiences, even the teachers when their team is about to play a game. College athletes would have to practice a lot, or else their coaches would tell them that they would be unable to win a game. This kind of thinking would undeniably take away a considerable amount of time from the student athlete. And as we know of student life, the time spent in practicing could have been the very precious time spent reviewing a lesson.
One of the most distracting cons of college sports would be injuries. If a player got physically injured in a game, his or her physical condition would not be a hundred percent in the classroom (that is if an injured player manages to walk to his or her classroom).
A discussion on college athletics would perhaps give us a deeper look in the issue. The speakers were Bill Thierfelder and Murray Sperber. Both of the speakers were college athletes, coaches, and currently educators themselves. Thierfelder had come up with a helpful description of college athletics as a distraction to academics. He described college athletics as an “artificial environment” (Schalin 2008). He added that within this “artificial environment” either good or bad could be inculcated in the minds of the college athletes, depending on the the character of who is directing that particular environment. The directors of the said environment would be of course the coaches, the athletic department, administrators, and even teachers. The issue that was surfaced in Thierfelder’s view is that most of the time, the directors of the said environment are fixated on the thought of winning. These directors are like to go by all means to achieve victory, regardless of its ethical repercussions or the well-being of the college students. Thierfelder added that the directors should be held accountable for the consequences of their methods just as they are savoring the glory of winning with those who actually participate in sports, the student players.
On the other hand, in line with Thierfelder, Sperber argued that college sports has detached from its former purity and integrity. He argued that college sports is becoming more and more corrupted and commercialized in the present era. To support his point, he used the first intercollegiate contest to be ever held. The said contest was a rowing contest between Harvard and Yale during the 1830’s. Sperber pointed out that the early intercollegiate sports were not designed to advertise branded shoes. The interesting part is when he shared that corruption in college athletic was ever present since it was originated. Sperber said that there were “ringers” in both teams. The term “ringer” simply means a good athlete who has no direct connection to the schools. The ringers were not students but rather some good player they asked to play for them. In much simpler terms Sperber just wanted to say that cheating was already present ever since the first intercollegiate games was played.
Ethical issues were already touched by the previous segment, but this particular part of the paper will throw the harder punches. As stated earlier commercialization had became a blemish in the image of college sports. Dishonesty is also becoming more and more prevalent. The main problem is that these issues are rarely addressed.
Cheating is also becoming more and more inseparable with the mention of college sports. There have been many instances wherein point-shaving of college players were committed. “Point-shaving” is a term used in the sports community to pertain to the act when players consciously underperform to make the opponent win the game. These kinds of games are known to sport enthusiasts “fixed-games.”
The NABC or National Association of Basketball Coaches admits that game fixing is becoming prevalent in college basketball games. The NABC points the blame to the gambling market that the popularity of college basketball creates (NABC). The number of students who bet on games is ever considerable and still growing. The number of student “bookies” is also gaining numbers. “Bookies” are the ones who collects the bets from the gamblers who are usually the constituents of those concerned with the games, who else but the constituents of the universities themselves. Being a bookie is an ethically alarming job, especially for the students. Students should realize that their minds and character are being reared in the university. If gambling would become more and more of a problem, then immediate action is deemed necessary.
Another issue that should be taken into consideration is the violence during college games. Both the college players and the fans had become entangled in the reports of violence in college sports. Even the coaches are sometimes initiator of the riots.
In Myriam Miedzian’s book “Boys Will Be Boys: Breaking the Link between Masculinity and Violence”, she tackled this issue of college sports violence. She attributed the violent actions of college players to the thinking that was embedded in their heads (Miedzian 77). College players are taught (mostly by being shouted at) to think that winning is everything and losing is never an option. When college players accept this thinking as the only way to view reality, when they lose a game, they also seem to lose their temper. Moreover , some sports would always require physical contact. Sometimes a player gets hurt, but that’s normal. The problem that arises is when the hurt player takes it as a personal offense or when the players are intentionally hurting each other.
The violent behavior is at times not done by the players but by the fans on the stands. And there are times when college sports violence escalate to a more alarming rate. Just this January, a UCLA basketball player named Kevin Love of Oregon received death threats through his cell phone. The death threat indicated killing the basketball player along with his family. But the violence did not stop there. Love did not attend the game because of the threats to him, instead his family watched the game. Dissapointed, Love’s own fans threw thrash at the player’s parents and sister. (sportsillustrated.com)
NCAA players are not being paid and does not recieve any sort of payment has always been a circulating argument in college basketball. The NCAA argues that scholarship is enough compensation (ncaa.org). The problem with this is that the NCAA and the university profit from the college players through advertising.
Murray Sperber also revealed that at a state university a certain basketball coach recieved two-hundred gran as a reward for recruiting a freshmen who was creating a buzz in high-school basketball.
College and sports are two very different entities, therefore should be separated. Both means well for the students. But purpose should always be kept in mind. Universities exist to mold the minds of future leaders. If these futures leaders would busy themselves excelling in sports, or gambling in sports, we could just imagine the future this might bring. The main source of the problem could just be over-prioritizing. Learning institutions should set clear lines to contain the issue. As for the problems with college sports laid out in this paper, we are already aware of these things. The problem is that these issues are rarely addressed. College sports is entering an era wherein glory is achieved in ill methods. Those concerned should learn how to act upon these issues as quick as possible.