Football: A Waste of Taxpayers’ Money

Why are we subsidizing such a hugely profitable sport?

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Brace Hemmelgarn / USA Today Sports / Reuters

From right: Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson (28) is tackled by Chicago Bears safety Chris Conte (47) during overtime at Mall of America Field at H.H.H. Metrodome, in Minneapolis on Dec. 1, 2013.

As we enter the drama-filled final week of the regular college football season and the final month of the National Football League’s schedule, forget about GM and Chrysler, Solyndra, or even cowboy poetry readings. Fact is, nothing is more profitable, more popular, and more on the public teat than good old American football. That’s right. You, dear taxpayer, are footing the bill for football through an outrageous series of giveaways to billionaire team owners and public universities that put pigskin before sheepskin.

It’s just not right when governments shovel tax dollars at favored companies or special interests, even when those firms are called, say, the Minnesota Vikings or the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers University. The NFL’s Vikings are lousy at scoring touchdowns – they have the worst record in the NFC North – but they’ve proven remarkably adept in shaking down Minnesotans for free money. Next year they’ll be playing ball in a brand-spanking new $975 million complex in downtown Minneapolis, more than half of whose cost is being picked up by state and local taxpayers. Over the 30-year life of the project, the public share of costs will come to $678 million. The team will pay about $13 million a year to use the stadium, but since it gets virtually all revenue from parking, food, luxury boxes, naming rights, and more, it should be able to cover that tab. Not that the Vikings were ever hard up for money: Forbes values the franchise at nearly $800 million and the team’s principal owner, Zygi Wilf, is worth a cool $310 million. When the Minnesota legislature signed off on its stadium deal for the Vikings, the state was facing a $1.1 billion budget deficit. Priorities, priorities.

The Vikings deal isn’t the exception, it’s the rule. It might even be kind of a bargain. The Atlanta Falcons, owned by a billionaire co-founder of Home Depot, are getting a $1.2 billion pleasure dome built with hundreds of millions of tax dollars. The team gets to sell seat licenses and naming fees and keeps all revenue generated by the facility. In The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America, Gregg Easterbrook writes that public dollars have covered about “87 percent of the total capital cost of NFL stadia” even though there is zero reason to believe that publicly funded sports facilities ever pay back their costs by increasing overall economic activity or putting more tax revenue in government coffers.

At the college level, the subsidies take different forms but are just as misguided. In a recent interview, Easterbrook told me that Rutgers’ athletics programs get a subsidy from the university of about $29 million a year, the lion’s share of which goes to the Scarlet Knights football team. As the flagship state university of New Jersey, that money is not only coming out of tuition and fees paid by students but out of the pockets of Garden State taxpayers.

As with NFL stadium deals, such lavish, publicly financed gifts are the norm for college football. With the exception of a tiny handful of programs – Ohio State, University of Texas, LSU, and perhaps three or four more – virtually every athletic program at every public NCAA Division I school is subsidized even as administrators plead poverty when it comes to resources for faculty and, as you know, education. Especially in an age of busted government budgets, even the most rabid sports fan should agree that it’s an outrage that the highest-paid public employee in a majority of states is a college football coach (in another 13, it’s a basketball coach).  It’s far better to be broke and have a cellar-dwelling NFL franchise, right?

If you watch football this weekend, recognize that most of the drama and meaning is taking place off the field. The way the college and pro games are built on subsidies and giveaways neatly encapsulates crony capitalism at its worst – and helps to explain why taxes go up even as it seems there’s never enough money for basic government functions.

65 comments
matthewk8888
matthewk8888

I live in in the socialist utopia of Massachusetts. There is no tax we don't love. There is no public works project that should not be funded. There is no investment for the future that should not be done.


That being said when it came time for a new arena for the Bruins and Celtics, for a new stadium for the Patriots and a new ballpark for the Red Sox the people and state agreed for once not to spend public dollars.

Every argument was made for investing in the future. Sales taxes for schools. Property taxes for infrastructure. Income tax on the salaries of millionaire players and owners for the rainy day fund. Hotel and meal taxes for junkets to Fiji! 

The argument was made that we need these teams to represent the city and state and that we must pay or lest they leave and go elsewhere. They pay for themselves ten fold on the return on investment.

Yes, the arguments were made. They were all rejected as well!       

 The new TD GARDEN and  new Gillette Stadium and over 150 million dollars in renovations to Fenway Park were all paid for in PRIVATE DOLLARS.

 The state and local gov't did pick up the tab for basic infrastructure around and going to the area. (i.e. fire hydrants, traffic signals, signage and  roads).

 Stadiums NEVER return what is put in to them. The city of Detroit just inked a deal for a new Joe Lewis Arena while declaring bankruptcy using all the failed logic I stated above.

 Sports leagues and franchises are billion dollar privately owned enterprises who should be able to and forced to pay for there own facility's.

 You as a taxpayer will never get a free game ticket or profit sharing check. The politicians will sit in the owners box while your at home. You may not even be a fan and not watching the game.

 Massachusetts said "NO"! Because the math does't add up and the logic is false.

 NO PUBLIC DOLLARS FOR PRIVATE SPORTS!!!    

ShirleyMárquezDúlcey
ShirleyMárquezDúlcey

Once again, Boston leads the way. Both the TD Garden (shared home of the Celtics and Bruins) and Gillette Stadium (New England Patriots) were built with private money, and the substantial renovations to Fenway Park (Red Sox) were also done without taxpayer money. The teams do get some benefit from public spending for roads and the Sox get to take over a nearby street during games as additional space for ballgame fans, but those subsidies aren't in the same order of magnitude.

michael.f.passe
michael.f.passe

Okay, but so what? It's not going to change, and if people weren't watching the games en masse, the owners would not be able to blackmail municipalities into subsidizing them. If you could wean Americans off their football addiction this might change. Not going to happen; you're spitting into the wind.

BorisIII
BorisIII

The best reason for living in crowded big city with lots of traffic and high prices is jobs and all the things to do.  A big city without pro sports is not a big city.  Sports unifies a city.  Especially when they are winning.  Look at New Orleans after Katrina.  Huge stadiums and coliseums wouldn't sell out all the time if sports where unpopular programs.  But then I think art theaters are a waist of money.

Ashtanga
Ashtanga

Why not make the owners pay 100% of the cost of the stadiums and have the taxpayers subsidize the players salaries. It would cost the same, the players could campaign and you could vote each year on what they make.

FyshGrrL
FyshGrrL

I love football. I don't mind paying taxpayer money for stadiums, etc. I DO mind that billionaire owners of various teams then get so many corporate loopholes and write-offs on their taxes that they pay nothing into the US system while raking in millions from the money invested in their teams' playhouses. The fact that the NFL is given tax free status is a TRAVESTY-- the US government should tax every single cent the league makes (NOT a single write-off).  Maybe then we'll have the budgetary funding so that the GOP can stop nickel-and-diming the poor on programs like SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, etc.  Heck, if the US taxed NFL revenue, we could have health care for everyone, NO problem!

College football is a real problem for me.  I went to a now PAC-12 university in the 1980s -- The school spent a RIDICULOUS amount of money to lose game after game while fielding a team of felons and thugs (literally).  The coach refused to honor little things like the US Constitution and separation of church and state, and he cost the U. plenty of money in litigation.  Meanwhile, I was working 2 jobs with minimal financial aid in a RIGOROUS graduate program that was being squeezed by funding - you guessed it - the football team. SORRY, if the football team cannot support itself, it needs to GO. The players are not really college students; most do not have the credentials for admission and almost none graduate. Let's get rid of college football, and create an Amateur Football League, separate from schools, that feeds the NFL.  Pay the players (they get paid anyway); tax the league (see "NFL" above) and cut out the TOTAL MYTH that college football has anything to do with "student" athletes.

Libtards-UNITE
Libtards-UNITE

Obviously Nick is a sissy that never played sports.  I'd like to pile drive that pansy into the turf.

Phlypp
Phlypp

Despite being one of the most profitable enterprises in the world, the NFL has been given tax-free status by Congress while being exempted from a large number of regulations other industries must comply with such as collusion and anti-trust statutes.  70% of the costs of football stadiums in this country were paid for with taxpayer funds.  After Hurricane Katrina devastated the state, Governor Bobby Jindall, who exhorted Republicans to 'not be the stupid Party', gave $1 Billion dollars to the New Orleans Saints for a new stadium and now gives them an additional $4 million/year. Why? Just because.  Overall, stadium subsidies total over $1 billion/year of taxpayer funds. This is but one example of the ways the wealthy continue to feed their own while cutting food stamps and unemployment benefits from those who can't survive on their own.  So when you think of lazy, worthless bums who suck from the public troughs, think of NFL owners and wonder why this country stumbles over itself to give them additional money they took from the needy. 

loranna238
loranna238

I suppose whoever wrote this doesn't know how local economies work, or doesn't care to explain and wants to keep fueling the ignorance train.  I'm voting possession of ignorance instead of the willfully ignoring it though.  In order for you to GET MONEY you have to SPEND MONEY.  Which means, that in order to get these companies to host their football teams in your town, which brings an enormous amount of people to your town who SPEND MONEY not just in the stadium which fuels the local economy, you have to spend money to begin with.  You have to make it look attractive to their bottom line.  Believe me, local governments/state governments would not be willing to part with money if they weren't getting it back in some way.  We even get welfare money back in some way shape, or form.  It's not like it evaporates, you know.   It's not like it goes "poof" when you spend billions of dollars on contractors, who are employed and feeding their kids, which ultimately feeds someone else's kids when they go to the grocery store to build a stadium.  All of which money is taxed and goes back into the government pocket.  And once it's built, it's not like the people who go to the stadium, who stay in nearby hotels and go to nearby attractions and that sort of thing when there are games are spending their money only on the team that is hosting their football team there.  It's enormously profitable for the nearby community to have the stadium there.  Why do you think St. Petersburg is fighting tooth and nail to keep the Rays in the middle of nowhere? Because if they let the team move to another place it would be better for the team, it would be BAD FOR THEM.


As for schools, the better the program is for sports, the more money it brings into the schools.  THAT is why those programs are subsidized.  Because schools don't really get that much money if they have an winning chess team, you know.  They get more money and more attendees and more fame/popularity/donations whatever from having a great football team than anything else.


They should probably rename certain political philosophies to "penny wise, pound foolish" because they have clearly no clue how things like the economy work, and that you have to spend a little to make a lot, and sometimes just to keep things going. 

ionotter
ionotter

Rome bought lots of stadiums and Colosseums too.


They kept the people quite happily distracted as everything fell apart.

EnzyteBob
EnzyteBob

I don't understand why governments subsidize billionaires to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. That said, on the college side this is a fairly predictable screed that gets repeated every so often. If you look at the advantages college sports programs bring to colleges, from student activities, fostering loyalty to an institution and as a mechanism to keep alums involved with (and donating to) their universities long after they graduate, the cost of college sports are cheap. The reality also is that having an Ohio State game every week is cheap advertising for the university.


Also, what's the difference between attending college to study a performance art such as music or theater, and honing your skills in a sport? Sports is an important vocation in society and who's to say that students shouldn't go to school to practice and be more proficient at, say, football? It may not be Shakespeare, but functionally sports is the same as acting or playing in the symphony. 


Mostly playing Devil's Advocate, but still realize the positive benefits sports programs bring to a university. Think about it: How connected are most people to the high schools they graduated from? The community colleges? Not very. There is a connection for a lot of people to their university alma mater and sports is one of the bigger reasons for it.

GoNavy
GoNavy

The march of the humorless dweebs.  Great public gathering places - publicly funded - have been part of the human landscape for millennia.  I suppose this writer would condemn the Roman Colosseum, a facility as publicly funded as they get.  I'm no fan of runaway budgets or owner extortion, and I am far less sympathetic to football stadia than baseball (81 dates vs. 8), but this is a tempest in search of a teapot.      

rick.geiger
rick.geiger

So, I am not saying the Minnesota or Rutgers deals are worthwhile, but I will say that each deal needs to be looked at scientifically, using economic impact analysis to make a good decision.   I do this as a business, mostly for sports related and casino gaming businesses and I can tell you that using the hard science and algorithms like RIMSII or Implan, each project can be evaluated in very specific detail showing the overall value (or not) of a particular project.     The mistake that too may government and their private partners make is to not get good, scientifically based economic impact analysis done, and then publish the results openly to the communities involved.    But it makes no sense to generalize by assuming that all of these projects are boondoggles.... some may be but all of them are not.   And we have good economic science to help us know

TRB
TRB

Add the University of Arkansas to those that use no tax money

kenjiharo
kenjiharo

Trade shows have ample empirical evidence of bringing millions to the cities they frequent; they bring visitors and tourism dollars to a region. I bet there is empirical evidence that cities with great sports stadiums and teams make millions and provide jobs to hundreds/thousands. The 'Yum Center' in Louisville, KY had a recent upgrade and has a great college team; the place was packed for every game last year, generating tens of millions. Municipalities, towns, cities and regions need to compete too! 

BrianMazurowski
BrianMazurowski

This is a very poorly written story that COMPLETELY ignores the money sports bring into local communities and economies. Do all you people complaining about this and how much athletes are paid this the out of towners and tourists that come support their local team don't stay in hotels, go out to eat, buy things, and see local sites? Think a little more critical about the issue before bemoaning your and my tax dollars being spent on it. Also, don't you think those stadiums also bring concerts, plays, etc to your city/town? Again, contributing to the local economy... I mean, come on man! THINK!

KyleGrooters
KyleGrooters

@matthewk8888 Agreed and to add! How about abolishing the idea of "public dollars". You live in the city that revolted on a hated 3% tax on tea and now you're all just washed up "Red Coats"

Sad to see a great state hand it's liberty over to government. The patriots buried in that city have been spinning in their graves for years. 

JeanOcelot
JeanOcelot

FyshGrrl, I am sure that there are a lot more folks who are interested in their team winning than you chasing some graduate degree (that I am also sure hardly anyone is interested in as well.)  You bellyaching about the transfer of resources from the taxpayer to feed YOUR dream is just as bad as the sports fans wanting the transfer to feed their dreams - if not worse, since sports at least satiates the powerful war instinct in humans (the main reason the ancient Greeks set up the Olympics way back when.)


And BTW, my alma mater, LSU, makes so much money from its sports programs (mainly football) that it reduces the cost of tuition to the student by about $100/yr/student.

Powerkor
Powerkor

Ad hominem. Look it up while we ponder your deep contribution to this discussion

JeanOcelot
JeanOcelot

Phlypp, there was no new stadium in New Orleans, only the post-Katrina renovation of the Superdome, which cost a net $320M, of which FEMA kicked in bunch (as it should, since it was a natural disaster), with the NFL kicking in some extra to get it to its former condition, followed by a re-engineering that cost about $140M of that $320M.  That $140M is much, MUCH less than these new $G stadia, and is more or less being paid for by the naming sponsor and luxury suite tenants.

And oh, New Orleans is one of the most popular cities for road teams' fans, bringing in lots of weekend travelers to rather empty hotels & restaurants

Libtards-UNITE
Libtards-UNITE

@Phlypp They didn't take if from the needy.  The needy doesn't pay taxes.  I DO.  So shut up Phylpp and your wealth distribution crap.

hosscomp
hosscomp

@loranna238 A true Keynesian for sure. The faster we spend money, the richer we get.

joshua.porrata
joshua.porrata

I happen to live in St Pete and can't wait for the day they tear down that dome.

adam.november5
adam.november5

@loranna238 He explicitly mentions how there is no quantifiable evidence to show that the new stadiums attract more fans to the games, it might be worthwhile for a town to back an expansion franchise, but an established team isn't going to sell twice as many tickets next year just because the seats are a little newer and the style has been updated. Instead it ends up as a net loss for the taxpayers, especially when they'd see just as much economic action from having the franchise there if they continued to play in the old stadium. The other thing is that these organisations are rich. Very rich. That's why he kept quoting the owner's book value; clearly they can afford it themselves, but there is enough of an established precedent for them to force taxpayers to subsidize their own profits.


So in order to continue getting the money that you earned from subsidizing the stadium in the first place, you need to spend even more money to subsidize a new stadium, even though the team is already successful and can manage it themselves, but choose not to. Doesn't that not sit right with you? Doesn't that start to smell a little fishy?


You're dreaming if you think most of the cost of these buildings comes back to the taxpayers as well. First off, labour for contractors is probably their lowest portion of cost. They'll be spending the primary bulk of the funding on the materials, but a larger share will go to the directors of the project than will go to the labour force. Oh and most of those directors are farmed in from elsewhere, and they take their paycheque back to whichever metropolis they hail from and give nothing back to the local economy.


And I take it you didn't read the article. The school pays $29 million to keep the sport program running, and yet there isn't enough money for the actual school. And that doesn't even start to scratch the surface of sport entertainment being the primary focus of educational institutions that shouldn't be spending public dollars on entertainment, which is never in the black by the way, do your research. There aren't any sports teams in the country that give more money back to the school they're funded by than they receive from said school in the first place.


So the only reason they run the programs is to attract people to the school. Don't you think they should be attracting people based on the quality of their educational programs? You know, the reason they're called schools in the first place?

JeromeL
JeromeL

@loranna238 Just a quick thought. When teams move to locations outside of inner cities, such as the Atlanta Braves are about to do, they drain money away from local business. Not only are they drawing people away from the city centers, they now control the parking. Less people are paying the local government to park, frequesnting the nearby watering hole, and are parking in these vast lots in which the money goes to the owners.

Phlypp
Phlypp

@loranna238 The only schools that make rather than lose money on their athletic programs are the very top elite.  The Ohio States, Alabamas and Florida States do well but for the vast majority of schools, both football programs and athletic programs in general are losing propositions.  

spamkaze
spamkaze

It is always hilarious when someone claims their opponent has "no clue how things like the economy work," when their own argument demonstrates a complete lack of understanding.  Thank you for making my day a little brighter with a good laugh.

RobertChristen
RobertChristen

@loranna238 If you took 5 minutes and looked at empirical research on this topic, you would see that you are proven wrong. The benefits do not outweigh the costs.  Why as a USF student should I and every other student pay $500 dollars a year extra in tuition that goes directly to the athletic dept.?  Why as  a taxpayer should I subsidize something that only economic benefits a few people? You should clearly take an economics class and look at the research before spouting off an incorrect and demonstrably false opinion.

ShirleyMárquezDúlcey
ShirleyMárquezDúlcey

@EnzyteBob One difference is that the music and theater students, although they specialize in their fields, still have to meet the normal academic standards of the school. At many (not all) schools, athletes in the major sports (football and basketball) do not.

Whynotdisqus
Whynotdisqus

For everyone who feels a deep bond to their school's teams, there's someone else who's totally alienated by commercial team sports culture.  If the benefit is that people just like having the fanciest most modern stadium that's possible to build, pass around a tithe at the dining hall to pay for it.  If it's that meaningful, I'm sure it won't be hard to gather the needed hundreds of millions of dollars directly from the people who want it spent on a luxury stadium

FyshGrrL
FyshGrrL

Send football players to vocational school is sport is a vocation.  I went to a PAC-12 university that has wasted MILLIONS on its football program (and wants to build a new stadium and field-house!). Give me a break - If there are even TWO people on the football team who meet the actual average admissions standards for the university, I would fall over in a dead faint. If the university thinks that "builds loyalty" they should consider how many alumni will NEVER contribute because of the way the college manages to allocate funding to the football program in huge amounts.  If I designate my gift to a different area, their other funds will just be reduced in setoff, so the holy football team will get its big pile of loot first.  NO WAY.

adam.november5
adam.november5

@EnzyteBob As a non-American, I'll just let you know that nobody else in the world does it your way, and it works out just fine. We value our schools based on the quality of the education they provide, not how winning their sports team is.

ReganAshby
ReganAshby

@EnzyteBob


The "connection" is false.  It's made-up for better reverie and commercialized nostalgia. 


When I think back to my college days, I have pleasant memories, and they have nothing to do with the University's sports teams.  

FyshGrrL
FyshGrrL

I'd be far more likely to support a venue that provides 81 dates for public entertainment than a mere 8 (at higher cost and less utility in alternative uses).

ChrisLoos
ChrisLoos

@GoNavy Its disingenuous to call a football stadium  a"public gathering space" since its only open 8 days a year, as opposed to a real public park or plaza which is open 365 days a year.  I wonder how many state-of-the-art parks each city could build for the price of one stadium? 20? 50?

ionotter
ionotter

Uhmm...you people *(DO)* know what the purpose of the Colosseum in Rome was, right?  You *(DO)* know about the concept of "Bread and Circuses", right????  And you *also* know that anyone who tried to tell people, "Hey, the system is broken and we need to fix it!" all ended up in that same Colosseum as playtoys for the gladiators and animals???


You *(DO)* know that part, right?


RIGHT??????


Anyway, my point is that Rome spent lots and lots of money on "stadiums" right before it FELL, because a populace that's distracted is a populace that's not paying attention to the real problems.

RichUnclePennybags
RichUnclePennybags

@GoNavy- Which billion dollar enterprise was the Rome Colosseum given to by the Roman state? I don't think any of us "humourless dweebs" have a problem with public funds for public access venues, rather our problem is with carving out a gold mine on public funds and handing it over to private interests on extraordinarily benevolent terms.

GeneP
GeneP

@GoNavy If your argument is that the governments of today have the same interest in mollifying the starving wretched masses, providing them the diversion of bloodsport and free food handouts so that they don't riot, as did the government of ancient Rome, then I suppose you have a point. In that case, there would be a public interest in financing stadiums.


Seems a little farfetched to me considering that its not just the owners of these teams who are wealthy, but the fans too. Tickets to football games are generally over $100 (at least in larger markets) and concessions at the stadium charge "captive audience" prices rather than the political food handouts of Rome. So unfortunately it appears that our sports teams do a pretty poor job keeping our poor in line and preventing riots. Our poor can't even get into the stadiums. Nope, it turns out that the stadiums are more about pork projects for politicians and taxpayer funded handouts for sports teams.


I don't believe in continuing bad ideas just because they are "tradition". Public money should go where it will do the most good and economic study after study proves that its definitely not stadiums.

EnzyteBob
EnzyteBob

@GoNavy - I've made the same point on numerous occasions that governments have been building stadiums since Roman times and that no government went bankrupt because they built a stadium. That said, subsidies for billionaires are ridiculous, not to mention that these billionaires expect their "government housing" to be torn down and rebuilt every 20 or 30 years whereas the largest and most prominent university stadia have been in service since the early part of the 20th century.


Building stadiums is not the worst thing a government does. Capitulating to billionaire demands to rebuild perfectly functional buildings every so often, however, is a travesty. Build it once and if they don't like it, let them move. It won't be the end of the world. And in the case of the Vikings, it may lead to the resurgence of the University of Minnesota football program.

tsln
tsln

@rick.geiger - Have you spent time in Minneapolis?

There are TONS of other places around the city and state that hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars should be spent. It's absurd to know that Ziggy Wilf can come crying to the state and silently threaten to move the team to another state if they don't cough up a ton of money.

I believe he's still under investigation in NJ for shady business dealings. Guy's MN's worst welfare queen.

FyshGrrL
FyshGrrL

Given that most NFL (and other team) stadiums try their darndest to keep their audiences captive for all purposes - food, drink, entertainment, parking, etc. - the impact on local businesses is in fact negligible.  Most stadiums are built in outlying areas, and parking fees go to owners.  Franchises within the stadium pay huge fees to the owners for the rights to sell there (and their prices to consumers reflect that). Bringing in food and/or drink is generally strictly prohibited "for your safety", but really to guard their profitability.  Most people who travel to games travel back home within short order -- a stadium location may benefit if they draw an audience from a large regional fan base (true in some Western states where franchises are few and far between) because hotel/motel bookings may be required.  In reality, though, you have a game-watching population that commutes, and spends its money inside the stadium walls. 

ChristopherCable
ChristopherCable

@BrianMazurowski - Why involve taxpayer money if it is so lucrative?  Since when does the private sector balk at investing money for an obvious return?

jhngalt9
jhngalt9

I am sure the revenue varies by location but I can tell you the sports stadiums in Detroit have brought very little revenue in. There are a few bars and restaurants in the area they are in but mostly the suburban folks come in to see the game and go straight home without patronizing the other businesses. There is no big payday for the local economy from sports.

Phlypp
Phlypp

@Libtards-UNITE @Phlypp

If you aren't rich, you should be as outraged as everyone else, this is taxpayer money being given away.  If you are rich, you should be hiring someone to do your postings.   Oh, wait....

JeanOcelot
JeanOcelot

The NCAA has decreed that a student with an SAT score of 700 (or equivalent for the ACT) has enough brain matter so that within a tightly controlled study program, along with the help of tutors. etc., a student can be successful - maybe not at a Rhodes Scholar level, but at a level to get the degree.  And I think that since universities make sure that the students are properly motivated and of high character, etc., they are rather successful (sure there are some bad apples that manage to get in, just like Harvard sometimes lets in a murderer, etc.)

What you call "normal academic standards" are nothing more than the standards that are used for students that don't really bring anything "special to the table" to the university, and hence they must compete with all the other academically gifted but otherwise undistinguished applicants.  An athlete brings something extra to the table and thus does not - and should not - have to compete with the lumpenstudent body.

Oh, and another thing, since the ethnicity of the athletes, especially in the most popular sports, football & basketball, tend to be more black than the rest of the student body, having such athletes helps to achieve affirmative action & diversity goals.

(BTW, I say this as a high level STEM student whose only contribution to my school's sports program was as an intramural weightlifting champion.)

JeanOcelot
JeanOcelot

You should have gone to some place that doesn't glorify the contributions of sports to society like Bryn Mawr.

ShirleyMárquezDúlcey
ShirleyMárquezDúlcey

@FyshGrrL Football stadiums do have more than 8 dates for public entertainment.

NFL teams play four exhibition games each year, two of which are usually at home. (Usually because a few of them are played in alternative venues like the NFL in Europe games.) That brings us up to ten.


A successful football team plays one or more postseason games, It is possible for a team to have two home postseason games, though a playoff team may also have no home games. There are three playoff rounds, but the current seeding system makes it impossible to have three home games.

Some stadiums host teams in other sports such as professional soccer. Some host bowl games or other high profile games for college teams. And some get to host the Super Bowl, though it is normally reserved for warm weather teams and teams with enclosed stadiums. The 2014 Super Bowl in New Jersey is an exception born of post-9/11 sentiment.


Finally, there are concerts. Most football stadiums host arena concerts during part of the year. Some also host other events such as monster truck rallies.


So the public use that a city gets from a football stadium is limited (and far less than the 81+ events provided by a baseball stadium) but it is more than eight days per year.

EnzyteBob
EnzyteBob

@jhngalt9 - Sports have a lot of ancillary benefits most people ignore, mostly in the form of free advertising for a city. If you're a city like Columbus, Indianapolis, Charlotte or Cincinnati, who is ever going to hear about you if not for having a sports event of some kind in the national media on a regular basis? In the case of Ohio State, sports generate a lot of school spirit among both students and alums, and alums remaining connected to their universities means more money in university coffers in the form of donations. Ohio State's successful sports programs also brings in people who didn't attend the university into the fold and helps make the university a part of the community instead of being an isolated entity that remains apart.


In Columbus, the arena for the Blue Jackets served the same role as a mall anchor department store. It basically was a catalyst for redevelopment of 30 acres downtown and it absolutely did improve the tax base of a fairly desolate area.


Lots of benefits to sports people don't realize. But the fact remains that building stadia only to tear them down in 20 years on Joe Sixpack's dime (who often can't afford to go to those games) is beyond obscene. Build it once. If the billionaires don't like it after that, too bad.