I was reading another thread and they were discussing what role athletics played in college and entertainment was mentioned a few times and no one disagreed. I didn’t want to derail that thread so I thought I’d start one to discuss this and see where everybody else thinks athletics fits in the scheme of things.
I don’t think athletics primary role is entertainment at all and it hasn’t in a long time. Watching sports is entertaining of course, but there are legitimate purposes that athletics fill which benefit both the university and the athlete.
The major sports, football primarily but any sport with an earning potential serve an educational role. They teach skills that are absolutely required for a legitimate career, in football a super high paying one.
Technically you can play professional football without attending college but it doesn’t happen. In the first place, you’d have to sit out 2 years before you’d be eligible and you’d miss 2 years of training in your craft which would put you too far behind the curve to land one of these jobs at all never mind the higher paying ones.
In my mind, this makes it a perfectly valid academic discipline for these sports. You are preparing your charges for a career which is why people go to college in the first place.
If you’re an athlete in these sports you have access to another benefit. You get to train for an entirely different career so you have a backup plan if you don’t get a job in your field. Most disciplines don’t have that benefit.
In sports where there is no professional career to pursue, their role isn’t entertainment either. They don’t draw enough fans to make them viable as entertainment. They are there to provide a more well rounded education, I think this is valid. You can get a degree in Physical Education so it’s already acknowledged that physical activities play a role in a well rounded curriculum.
Again, these kids can get scholarships which means they earn a shot at learning a viable career while still getting the education in something they really enjoy doing or happen to do well enough to be able to parlay into your degree.
In conclusion, I don’t see athletics as merely entertainment at the college level. I feel it does offer benefit to an institution and not just as a cash cow because people tune in when the teams play.
What do you think?