Sport, not bureaucracy, serves the University

Sport does not exist for the spectators; the spectators simply supply the money. And certainly, as de facto shareholders and benefactors of sport, the spectators should be given their due respect regarding some aspects of the competition, but sport itself was not originally intended to be a moneymaking proposition. As it happens, some sports have become so popular they rake in millions or even billions of dollars annually, while others continue to exist simply because of athletes’ dedication, effort and, in many cases, sheer bullheadedness.

But those things that make sport useful and important – the mental and physical lessons it teaches, the artistry, the purity and beauty and thrill of victory – are neither increased nor diminished in accordance with the amount of money surrounding it. As Vince Lombardi said, “I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle – victorious.” And let’s be clear on something right off the bat: Female athletes feel the same and are just as dedicated as their male counterparts. Sport is not a boy’s club; it is one of, if not the truest and most complete manifestations of humanity.

For this reason, the University, as an institute of higher learning and as a bastion of culture, has a responsibility to foster sports, even when they fail to bring in money. In recent days and weeks, many on this campus have said the University should focus on academics, not athletics. But academics do not exist for their own sake, and self-perpetuating academia – which too often can be seen on this campus in the form of people who come here to learn about the world and never leave, assuming books hold all the answers – is utterly useless. Academics exist to further our understanding of who and what we are. Sport shows us.

Simply put, things make sense at the ballpark.

For this reason, the University should combine men’s and women’s athletics departments.

And for this reason, the University should cling to existing men’s and women’s sports programs as tenaciously as they do academic courses.

Dual athletics departments create more ancillary bureaucracy around University sports and, as such, serve the same function as self-perpetuating academia: wasting time and money. And after the departments are combined, the University should take a hard look at what remains, eliminating whatever they can find within the department that is not needed to keep the programs functioning. Only after every superfluous account is gone should administrators even begin to think about cutting student-athletes’ opportunities.

If the day comes when people lack the dedication to become a college-level gymnast or golfer, the athletes will have shown they do not have what it takes to keep the sport alive at the University. But until then, those who put forth the necessary effort deserve better than to be thrown out because of a blown call.