Thursday, November 29, 2007

College sports are all about the dollar signs

Why do college football coaches make more than college professors, or doctors, or lawyers, or even teachers? I know the answer, but it doesn’t seem right to me. According to this article on the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog, the salary of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno has finally been revealed after a five-year legal battle. He makes $512,644 a year. Yes, he is in his 42nd year as a coach there, which is pretty remarkable, but paying him an annual salary of over half million? Come on.

I realize a lot of the money comes from private donations to the football program and such, but the inflated salaries of college coaches, and all coaches and athletes, professional or not, is just ridiculous. (Iowa State head football coach Kirk Ferentz makes $2.84 million a year). These guys make more than doctors, lawyers and other highly paid professionals in our society. Don’t even get me started on the contrast between professional athletic salaries and those of teachers, human services workers and others who truly make a difference in society and do it because they love it, not for the pay.

I was walking to the library on campus today and saw two signs displayed in front of a building advertising the men’s hockey and men’s basketball games this weekend. This is fine, but I saw no accompanying sign advertising the women’s hockey game, which is also at home this weekend, nor have I ever seen signs advertising the female versions of these two sports on campus. Women’s sports don’t draw as large a crowd as men’s sports, but perhaps part of the reason for this is that NO ONE KNOWS WHEN THE WOMEN’S GAMES ARE! Would it really set the athletic department back so much to buy two more sandwich boards to advertise the two other winter sports? Or perhaps urging students to go see the swimming & diving team (all women), as it is a perfect 6-0?

College sports are supposed to be a thing of opportunity and growth for athletes and are now nothing but a business. Take for example the Northeastern football team, which is a full scholarship team (80 scholarships). An average of 25-30 guys play per game (mostly the same ones). Don’t those other 40-50 scholarships seem like kind of a waste? It might be different if the football team actually made money for the school, but at 3-8 (2-6 Colonial Athletic Association) the future doesn’t look too promising. Yes, those men are getting the chance to go to a great school such as Northeastern for free. Many of them may not be able to afford it otherwise, but what about the other high school athletes who have dreamed of attending Northeastern, but need a scholarship to come here? Their hopes may be dashed because their athletic team (men’s or women’s) may not have enough scholarships to go around.

I hate how college sports have become a business, and that the learning and growth that a student can take away from participating in a college sport is now more about the dollar signs than anything else.

No comments: