I’ll put this forth first: I am one of the most realistic sports fans you’ll ever meet. No blind faith here, just fandom in times both good and bad. As a Tampa Bay sports fan, it’s probably the best stance I could take 🙂
Along with that comes the ability to be critical of managerial and marketing decisions. Anyone who knew me during the Lightning’s nightmarish Oren Koules period is well aware of that. But the latest eyebrow raising from Tampa sports comes from this recent marketing campaign for USF Basketball:
Billboards with sayings such as “we major in home openers”, “I major in get that junk outta here”, and “I major in schooling you” send a mixed message. As an institution that speaks often of its graduation rate for student athletes and has a president who is an active member of both the Big East Conference and the NCAA, this sends a message that the school part doesn’t matter as much. That worries me.
The contemplation continued this morning when Beth Moriarty shared this article from the Chronicle: “End the Charade: Let Athletes Major in Sports.” There are elements of it that I agree with, and elements that really concern me. On the one hand, it allows a comprehensive education like many of us hope for- a way to incorporate education with something a student truly loves and understands. And if done thoughtfully, such an endeavor of marrying athletics and academics would allow for mutual support of each other’s work, a concept foreign to many institutions.
On the other hand, this to me smacks of creating a major by demand of consumers, but not the market. Just as it feels disingenuous and excessive to create for-profit programs of study in crime scene investigation based on interest in similar TV shows, does it make sense to create an academic curriculum that could flood the market with a slew of athletics majors, a market that is far smaller than the demand of students to fill it? Granted, not all students would choose this major- for some do truly see it as a means to supplement an unrelated education- but many likely would. And moreover, would those majors ultimately end up with greater support and disproportionate resources, just as athletics programs occasionally do in relation to academic pursuits?
This raises many more questions than it provides answers, and I’m sure they will be addressed in time. But what do you think? Should athletics be a major? How would you like to see it structured?