Letters to the Editor

Athletic balance

May 20, 2011


To the editor:

To a town with a major educational institution where academics are often defined as “a cosmetic front to a sports enterprise,” I offer the following quote from the latest Yale Alumni magazine:

“Because Yale and the rest of the Ivy League schools don’t give athletic scholarships, they’ve been spared the growth of the giant sports operations that have warped the academic missions of many other schools. Ivy League schools have no coaches making multimillion-dollar salaries, no endorsement deals, no corruption scandals in recruiting or grading. Above all, their athletes are students, here to learn and to graduate. They are not preprofessionals who see college classes as a bureaucratic inconvenience.”


UNIKU 6 years, 8 months ago

....and no good sports teams.... Your argument is weak.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

Missed the point there - the primary purpose of universities is to educate.

Thunderdome 6 years, 8 months ago

You did miss the point. I love college athletics, but it is increasingly apparent that the sports dog is wagging the academic tail. When you have people actually making a decision to go to a school based on their sports prowess, the situation is out of control. And when you have assistant coaches making two or three times as much as a faculty member, the situation is out of control. And let's be honest, in many sports, Division I college athletics IS the equivalent of a farm league for professional franchises. It would be great if both could co-exist, but I am not sure that they can without extraordinarily strong leadership at the top of a university. Sadly, most universities lack that leadership today.

nativeson 6 years, 8 months ago

The primary purpose for universities is to educate. The Ivy league schools are tremendous with 200 years of history and billions in endowment. Public universities face the balance between great academics and the obligation to its constituents that expect their son or daughter to be able to attend a Regents school.

Sports puts institutions on the map. Many people around the country identify with Kansas due to its basketball program, not its Occupational Therapy department which is stellar. The Chancellor needs to take what is good about sports and leverage it to make KU a better academic institution.

By the way - those "preprofessionals" typically never get paid to play at the next level. They also have a higher GPA than the campus-wide average in many BCS schools including KU.

Brock Masters 6 years, 8 months ago

So what you're saying is that Yale and other Ivy league schools do little to help the local economy? I suspect any college or university can educate kids (really, how hard is it?) but it takes real commitment to set academics aside and focus on building a sport powerhouse that provides entertainment to the locals, a venue for tailgating which helps grocery stores and liquor stores as well providing journalist with interesting material. Think about it, when was the last time you read about a Yale basketball player arrested for assualt or other juicy crime?

Not only that, but think of the joy I get as I drive by the local highschools and view their beautiful football fields. As I gaze upon the perfect artificial turf glistening in the sunshine, my mind is at peace and I forget about the funding shortages the schools are facing as well as our sagging economy.

Thank you sports schools for putting athletics first and realizing there is more to an education than just learing something.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 8 months ago

While the Big 12 was breaking up last year (Colorado and Nebraska leaving and prior to an agreement by the remaining schools to stay together), I heard one estimate that if K.U. were relegated to a lesser conference, they might lose as many as 5,000 students. Wow! I can't even begin to imagine the impact on our local market here (housing, retail, etc.). Sports is a big deal. The fact is that 18 year old adults (kids) want to come to a university for the education and to have a good time. They want to go to the games and they want to party at the local bars. They come for a variety of reasons. I'd be all for doing it the Ivy League way if everybody else did it too.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 8 months ago

"Who cares about the local economy?" That has to be just about the dumbest thing I've ever seen unless of course your not in this community. "I'm sick of everything being based on money" Tell that to the waitstaff that will be laid off. Tell that to the storeowners that will close shop. Tell that to the homeowners that will see their home values drop. The tax base will shrink, teachers laid off, schools closing, services denied. You're statement makes sense only if you live in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

The primary purpose and function of a university is to educate students, not entertain them.

If KU was a better school, and focused more on education, perhaps we'd get some better students to replace the sports-minded ones.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 8 months ago

The letter was perfect.

Meanwhile USD 497 blows $20 million tax dollars on PLAY for the benefit of what?

Thunderdome 6 years, 8 months ago

Nice retort...spoken like a true sports fan.

Joe Hyde 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes, Yale University is an excellent school and part of the reason for their academic greatness might be their practice of not trying to maintain a big-name sports profile.

On the other hand, even after George W. Bush graduated from Yale he exhibited great difficulty expressing himself verbally by using the English language to form coherent sentences. And as president he lent unwavering support to policies and political attitudes that led us into a financial meltdown, while simultaneously super-glueing us to two overseas wars that keep draining our nation's wealth.

No pre-professional football, baseball, track or basketball player who attended KU on a scholarship has ever been "smart" enough to do stuff like that.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 8 months ago

If, as has been stated here a couple of times, that the primary function of a university is to educate, is that it's only function? Good teachers are always trying new ways to make the educational process more interesting and yes, more fun. Maybe that's because it enhances the educational process.

jafs 6 years, 8 months ago

If universities are excelling at the basic function of educating students, then there's no reason they can't also offer other things, like sports, for fun.

However, when an emphasis on sports means that the quality of education suffers, then the priorities are wrong, and should be reversed.

KU is widely known as a "party school", with plenty of fun, sports and extra-curricular activities, not as an excellent university for educating students.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.