Clash of mission, money in big-time sports is an age-old problem
Posted September 18, 2013
Perhaps the most surprising thing I learned in the production of “College $ports: #MissionorMoney” is that the issues the documentary raises were issues raised about college sports nearly a hundred years ago.
A 1929 report from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching also questioned the commercialization of college sports. The only thing that’s changed in all of that time is the money. College sports are now a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s the big money that prevents the concerns raised by the Carnegie Foundation report, and the ones raised by the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics decades later, from seriously being addressed. Too many people involved in big-time college sports have a financial incentive to maintain the status quo.
Many reforms to big-time college sports have been talked about – from paying student athletes to eliminating athletic scholarships. Those would be tough choices to make, and it seems that every potential reform creates another potential problem.
But are the reforms solutions in search of a problem? What’s really wrong with big-time college sports anyway? People love it, and it has lots of positive benefits for colleges and universities beyond generating revenue.
One of the answers to that question lies with former star players who leave college without a degree, without a professional sports career and without much of a future. If our colleges and universities are not doing everything they can to help those young men earn a degree that will lead to a career outside of athletics then they are not fulfilling their missions and that is clearly a problem that needs a solution.