Friday, November 21, 2008

Skewed priorities

The University of Oregon's athletic department is a self-supporting entity run by athletic director Pat Kilkenny, who in the past has donated money to the University. In fact, he donated money to buy off the former A.D.'s contract. Nike founder Phil Knight, an alumnus of the University, is also a donor and some in town think he has far too much influence over athletic decisions.

The most recent controversy in the UO athletic department is the firing of the women's golf coach. It wasn't handled very well, and in today's Register-Guard article about the situation, executive senior associate A.D. ReneƩ Baumgartner was quoted as saying:

"This is a $52 million business."

One can assume she is referring to the UO athletic department.

I think that quote shows everything that's wrong with today's collegiate sports. Should college athletics be considered a business? After all, a university is a public institution, not a business. Is it fair that $52 million can be made of the sweat, blood, tears and effort of college athletes, all of whom do not get to share any piece of that $52 million aside from any benefits such as equipment or improved facilities. Some receive scholarships, but many others do not. Only a select few will ever play professionally.

When you really look at it, college sports have become exploitative. Athletics are supposed to be extracurricular activities, not a multi-million dollar business.

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