Don’t know much about ….

February 21, 2011

Here’s my favorite response to what I wrote and Daniel deVise posted about “How to Fix Higher Education.”  Karebear3 weighs in on my brief paragraph urging “an end to intercollegiate athletics as we know it.”  S/he says: “The only reason why he didn’t say much about sports is because he dosen’t know anything. He doesn’t care about athletics. He graduated from a small college who didn’t have any athletics and doesn’t realize that for some kids if it were not for athletics they could not go to college at all. so when it comes to that he is talking out his ear! Liberal arts collages only prepare kids to either teach do non for profit work, they have to go onto get masters or Dr. degrees or they end up asking “you want fries with that”? They think they are so high and mighty, but they really don’t prepare the kids for the real world. The only ones who have a real plan for thier future are the athletes. weather they stay in athletics or go on to something else they know what they are doing. other students have no grasp of the real world. So all thier academics do really count for too much.”  Posted by: karebear3 | February 21, 2011 11:05 AM

I suppose the comment largely speaks for itself.  My guess is that Karebear3 didn’t have an opportunity for a liberal arts education.  So s/he doesn’t know that we prepare our graduates to do a great many things — most of which involve a grasp of the real world.  So s/he doesn’t know that most liberal arts colleges don’t offer athletic scholarships (those in NCAA Division 3 don’t, those in NAIA do).  So s/he doesn’t know that a much, much higher percentage of our students actually participate in intercollegiate athletics:  at Earlham, between a quarter and a third of our students participate as against less than 1% of students at an NCAA Division I university.

So what’s the problem with “intercollegiate athletics as we know it” (what I suggested we end?  The gravitational pull of (male) professional athletics, which has very little regard for education, and a great deal of regard for money alone.  That gravitational pull is exerted through every molecule of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, whose values are shaped by Division I, whose values, in turn, slide ever closer to the values of the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball.

If we want athletics as a part of higher education, we need to disrupt that gravitational pull, and I no longer believe we can do that without dismantling the NCAA.  Meanwhile, I’ll continue to support and encourage Earlham athletics.

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About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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