Once upon a time, long ago, universities had the sole responsibility of educating their students for at least 4 years, equipping them with knowledge to adequately take on the outside world, in whatever form that may be. Universities challenged students by putting them through rigorous course loads that would force students to confront their biases and rethink their beliefs. Universities vigilantly sought after the most qualified faculty, hired them, and even incentivized further professional growth. For the most part universities still do this, but now there’s an enormous monetary factor that comes into play when university administrators make their budgeting decisions: College sports.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love college football just as much as the face painted, ass-tatted SEC fan that always has a little too much on game days, but I’m beginning to think that giving up something I want, for something this country desperately needs, would all be worth it in the grand scheme of things. Because I believe college sports, especially the ones attracting tens of millions of viewers, have become too influential on administrative decisions, leading to a detrimental effect on our academics.
What exactly do I mean? Take the University of North Carolina “fake classes” scandal for example; UNC’s department of African American Studies created classes that students were not required to attend, but would still make A’s and B’s, regardless of whether or not they actually turned in any work. One student, in a level 3 Swahili class, apparently could not even utter the elementary word of “hello.” And make no mistake, North Carolina is not an exception, even prestigious universities such as Duke and Stanford have been caught up in similar scandals. Why are universities no longer doing what they are intended to do? Is the pressure of fielding the best possible athletics teams really worth selling out the intellectual activity that actually makes a university, a university? I don’t think so.
I’m sure all of you are aware of Tyson Summer’s recent firing. That’s $675,000 out of Georgia Southern’s pocket. College Football has become such a large and competitive industry, that end of the pack school like us are now spending massive amounts of money, in our vain attempts to “be like ‘Bama.” Universities all around this country should not have College Football as their first priority, but that’s what it seems. This survey found that 43% of college students could not Freedom of Speech as a 1st amendment right, and universities have no right to blame that entirely on our ignorance as students.
Trevor Wright is an English and Writing & Linguistics double major from Augusta, Georgia. He currently works in the film industry and plans on pursuing a career as a public educator.