By Christopher B. Daly
Today’s NYTimes greets the new year with a dismaying (though hardly surprising) story about the ways in which the NCAA extends its corrupting reach into college classrooms. It’s an extreme version of a common practice — providing fluff courses for intercollegiate athletes so that they can maintain their student status even while they are spending all their time in training for their schools’ teams (which are nothing more than farm teams for professional leagues).
This story is particularly dismaying because it involves charges of academic abuse that are so egregious that they caught the attention of a criminal prosecutor. Not only that, but the case involves UNC-Chapel Hill, where I went to graduate school in history, which is actually a fine, serious, and improving university. Yes, it is also an NCAA powerhouse in football, basketball, lacrosse, and other sports that fill stadia and attract national TV distribution.
Again, I ask: What educational purpose does the NCAA serve?
In my experience, the practice of intercollegiate athletics not only contributes nothing to students who participate, it also detracts from educating young people. The only educational purpose I can imagine is to serve as an object lesson in what not to do in economics, law, and ethics.
2 responses to “Abolish the NCAA: Shame on UNC, too”
It has been the case for decades that universities–including the Ivy League– admit large numbers of athletes they know can only stay eligible if they take the easiest courses and receive massive help, often with both tutors and teachers breaking rules on their behalf.
Even worse, perhaps, is that athletes who are serious about studying often face major obstacles, such as the huge sports workload in and off season (“voluntary” off-season weight training, etc); physical exhaustion; and need to avoid classes which conflict with practices or travel to away games, etc.
I am not sure, however, that “the practice of intercollegiate athletics not only contributes nothing to students who participate”–even those who do make the pro’s receive scholarships, exalted social status, jobs from alumni and shortcuts through collegiate red tape. Moreover, have you asked the athletes who do not receive significant scholarships (most male and many female swimmers, soccer players, wrestlers, runners, etc) or play on tv why they do it?
To put it another way, many of the writers on collegiate newspapers and magazines put in long unpaid hours without hoping to convert the experience into a journalism career, law school acceptance or campus status. So do students in collegiate theater, marching bands, charitable projects and Ultimate Frisbee clubs. Are you sure that these students receive an educational or personal benefit that the student who runs cross country to stay fit, be part of a team, and enjoy competing against others and their own personal best does not?
im a huge north carolina tarheels fan and i think that’s probably true for some of the players mainly the starters and the key reserves . but not the rest of the team because that part of the team pretty much knows they better hit the books because they know they don’t have enough basketball skills to cut it in the nba .