There was a recent article in the Journal-World about Kansas University’s basketball coach, Bill Self, getting an agreement in the millions of dollars through the 2021-22 season. I admire coach Self, and I like to have winning teams, but I also think it would be great if we were to see more fairness in the paychecks of the professors and instructors at KU who are not sports staff. Can you see big bold headlines announcing on the front page of the J-W that academia at KU is overcome by the fact that they are being overpaid yearly by millions of dollars? Wow! What a thought!
I was thinking this same way back in 1947 when John and I were first married. We were both students at KU, John doing graduate work and I in my senior year. We lived in an apartment in Sunnyside, located just south of the campus near Robinson Gym. We were very grateful to get to live there, for housing in Lawrence was tight at that time. Our apartment was on the second level. Directly below us was a young couple whom I will call Mike and Jane (not their real names). Mike was on the KU football coaching staff.
It was very quickly my observation that Mike and Jane were often receiving gifts. I thought that was really great. But after a few months, I wondered why they kept being feted. A friend said, “Oh, Mike is on the sports staff at KU.” I was to learn a hard lesson. It wasn’t the professor that was helping prepare students in the sociology or the psychology departments or other academic disciplines who got the lovely gifts, but it seemed to be consistently those in the sports arena.
That at the time didn’t make sense to me, but today I realize that is simply a part of the value system of our culture. Entertainment and pleasure rank very high in our American culture —it did also in the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. I think most of those societies have fallen by the wayside.
You and I might think that we don’t adhere to that value system — but do we? How much time and money do we spend regarding television, sports, recreation? Do we spend equally as much time in reading, in conversing with our kids and with other loved ones? Or even in reading and studying the Bible?