Brain Dropping # 122
RAH! RAH! RAH! SIS BOOM BAH!! That old college football cheer clearly dates me. It goes back to the time before college football became yet another sellout to the corporate model. I admit to being a fair-weather sports fan; that is I don’t have the patience (Sitzfleisch in Yiddish) of a true fan to sit through the tedium of all the scheduled games, whether football, baseball or basketball, leading up to the “crucials” – like the World Series, Regional Championships, the Super Bowl or the Final Four. I think that most people know how screwy our sports culture has become, pushed by the crass commercialism brought on by the lucrative TV market. I can understand the imperatives of the NFL to suck in as much cash as they can while young men bash their brains out on the artificial turf in magnificent stadiums named after corporations, paid for in part, by the taxpayer. (Despite all that, I still consider myself a football fan.)
College football used to be an adjunct to academic excellence and rigorous classroom study. Now, it’s fair to say, it is the tail wagging the dog – but perhaps more accurately, the whole dog. I just read in yesterday’s paper that former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh will be the new football coach at the University of Michigan. His salary? “5 million annually for seven years with ten percent increases after three and five years”- ultimately more than he made in the NFL – and hundreds of thousands in bonuses for winning certain games. “The highest paid college football coach at around $7 million this season was Alabama’s Nick Saban ……..” – surely an obscenity. As my feeble math skills calculate Mr. Harbaugh’s $5,000,000 yearly salary can be translated into two hundred and fifty scholarships for instate students at $20,000 per year – eighty-three scholarships for out-of-state students at $60,000.
The same article in the NYT (Wed. Dec.,31-Front page) carried one of the most poignant aspects to these distorted priorities – a Twitter from Cardale Jones, a quaterback at Ohio State: “Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t (sic) come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS”
Somehow, all this dismaying information brought to mind a quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky: “The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering it’s prisons!” I believe that is true, but I would add: ” and discovering how much college football coaches are being paid when there are poor kids who can not afford college.”