Comments about ‘Dick Harmon: Are we spending too much money on college football?’

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Published: Thursday, Dec. 5 2013 8:40 a.m. MST

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It would be great if we could raise academic achievement to a higher level than athletic achievement because most people have a much better chance of financial success in life through academics than sports.

For example, roughly one in 500 High School football players make it to the NFL and then the AVERAGE NFL career is THREE years!

Provo, UT

The claim that football and related activities "bring millions of dollars to universities" is bogus. Almost all athletics programs lose a lot of money.

"Community pride" and the supposed economic benefits of games could do just as well if teams were professional or semi-pro teams unaffiliated with universities.

To admit the situation is crazy and then say "nobody's going to unhook the IV" is to say "sure, education and academics already get the short end of the stick and that's just going to get worse and worse as time goes on, but nobody should try to rock the boat to make any necessary changes, because SPORTS."

Universities have good reason to have robust intramural sports. Extramural sports have become too much of a distraction from the purpose of a university and too exploitative of students (both athletes and non-athletes), and should be spun off.

Virginia Beach, Va

We are spending too much on sports at out universiies. I love college sports but it is totally out of hand and no longer justfiable.

Spanish Fork, UT

Great commentary. Many argue that Universities should apply that money to academics. Fact is, people don't chose between football season tickets and donating to the chemistry department. If the money wasn't being spent on football, it would not go to the university; so the university is not "loosing money" from its general coffers because of athletics. The opposite might be true though. Because of sports, some people are drawn to donate money to the university.

It would be interesting to see a correlation between athletic expenditures and general academic fundraising--not grants, just pure donations to academics.

Mark from Montana
Davis County, UT

Yes people do unhook the IV. I stopped watching sports a number of years ago when I realized what a complete waste of time they were. Why spend three hours on a Sat to watch a college game when I could spend the same three hours with my kids? Or instead of spending four hours on Sunday watching an NFL game when I could spend it catching a nap? Why waste three hours during the week on an NBA game when I could use that same time to create something with my own hands, something I could pass down to my grandkids?

Sports, both pro and college, is such a waste of time and money. Do something with your life. Get off the couch and be productive.

Richmond, VA

@Mark from Montana
Davis County, UT.

"Sports, both pro and college, is such a waste of time and money. Do something with your life. Get off the couch and be productive."

Umm, it's different strokes for different folks dude! Whatever rocks your boat! I don't care for professional sports but I'm crazy hooked on college sports, especially BYU sports!

Go Cougars! Good luck to Utes and Aggies too!

Y Grad / Y Dad
Richland, WA

No need to isolate college football. We spend too much money and time on entertainment period. But, it's our time and our money and our choice what to do with it.

There are also people who feel doctors get too much money. I know this: the one that saved my son's life wasn't over-paid. At the end of the day, how many of us our really worth what we get paid? But taking it away from rock stars and middle line backers doesn't mean it will somehow end up in the pay checks of our teachers.

River Falls, WI

Where you complete your undergraduate education makes a significant contribution to your identity moving forward. If you went somewhere with a good football (or basketball, or fill-in-the-blank) program you have the rest of your life to cheer for "your" team. Having a team to root for can improve your life satisfaction, help you forge a bond with others (who root for the same team), etc. I am fine with athletic budgets being what they are, but what do I know, I'm just an underpaid professor at a University that doesn't offer athletic scholarships.

Provo, UT

@Y Grad/Dad: that doctors and rock stars receive high salaries is mostly a matter of how people value their services and is basically fair, and that funding could not imaginably be reallocated without coercion.

But this situation isn't comparable at all; nobody's saying "gee, people who attend college football games should take their ticket money and donate to academics instead." This is about misallocated university budgets, and university budgets are utterly unlike the things you've tried to draw analogies with. Almost every athletics program in the country loses a large amount of money every year; ticket sales and booster donations have to be substantially supplemented by taxpayer subsidies and by taking money away from regular students' tuition. That money really could simply be better allocated and "end up in the pay checks of our teachers" or be spent on any of countless other things that actually help accomplish the purpose of a university.

Idaho Falls, Idaho

Are we paying too much for college football?

I think we have the answer, Dick, when we find so many people getting paid to talk about it.

Farmington, UT

If academics were the emphasis many athletes wouldn't be able to attend the university. They are treated to scholarships and all other kinds of benefits. Many of them never bother to graduate with a degree because they can make unholy amounts of money in professional sports. After a few years in the NFL Jim McMahon said he'd never have to work another day in his life for money. (But he was responsible with his resources, another separate issue for the pro athlete.)

I am concerned more about the double standard privileges for athletes than the average student. Nothing said it better than the style of Reilly Nelson's hair at BYU. I'm not arguing the standard, but the average student would have been in trouble for such grooming. Thee football QB could do whatever he wanted---all the athletes were treated differently.

I agree it will never change. I enjoy watching the game as much as anyone. The coaches sure have a sweet deal across the board. Win and they're almost worshipped; lose and they get a huge buy-out and relocate with more money than they know how to spend.

Ed Grady
Idaho Falls, ID

We do spend too much money on college sports; however, I wouldn't care as much if the money started to flow to the players. I think it's ridiculous that coaches' and ADs' and college presidents'salaries soar while the players are still little more than indentured servants. I hear people say that "college football is a business." If so, why don't colleges pay property taxes on stadiums and weight rooms and indoor practice facilities? What other for-profit business do you know that pays it employees with in-kind goods. I love college football, but it's not a business.

Phoenix, AZ

I take my children to the football games. I'm taking my son to the PAC 12 Championship game at Sun Devil Stadium this Saturday (don't worry, we'll be bundled up!). So, I enjoy college football AND spend time with my children. Best of both worlds.

Las Vegas, NV

This is supply and demand issue, school spend the money because there is a demand for it.

I must have missed it, where is the proven formula that says students will be smarter in the absence of college sports?

Mr.M Jaack
Bountiful, UT

The comparison is wrong. College sports and college academia are different. College sports is entertainment ... period. The reason major universities can spend the money they do is that they have a strong base of supporters that are willing to put their money towards watching these games. How much money do they make off of TV revenue, apparrel sales and other items? Millions. Sure are their programs that lose money? Yep. Do they need to be managed better? Yep. Could someone with business sense help? Yep.

Mr.M Jaack
Bountiful, UT

Is it worth paying a top coach to put a good product on the feild each week? Absolutley. No different than a good CEO to run a company, this is the reality. How we spend our money on ENTERTAINMENT should not be compared against money towards those working towards degree's. Athletes bring money to the universities ... Universities benifit, and the athletes get an education that they would have to work a lot of hours to match. Also, a side note. I would love to see Dick's math on the numbers he put in this article. Also, next time show the money each university brings in as well. I am wondering does the average athlete bring in 2x what they spend on them ?

Provo, UT

@t702 that's laughable. For there to be sufficient demand in any kind of economic sense, athletic spending would have to turn a profit in ticket prices and booster donations large enough to be comparable to other investments. But there are only about a dozen schools where ticket prices and booster donations even cover the cost of the athletic program. All the other schools rob the taxpayer or the regular student to pay for athletics. And yes, taking students' tuition money and spending it on an indoor practice facility rather than on teaching them does tend to keep students from "being smarter."

Littleton, CO

This brought to mind a news story I heard last evening that the University of Colorado just approved another $175 million to be spent on upgrading athletic facilities. I'm a huge college sports fan, but as the stakes rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify this kind of spending. The "haves" who, as Dick pointed out, are often financed by billionaire alumni benefactors are driving a standard which is putting a lot of pressure on the "have nots" to keep up. So for example, Utah, who was just catching up with their old rival, now has new facilities which are in danger of being leap-frogged by a lot of money being being committed by their new rival -- what's Dr. Hill's next move to stay competitive in the new conference? Obviously Oregon, Stanford, UW, WSU, UCLA, USC, OSU, ASU, UA and Cal are not standing pat either. Where does it stop? The gap will continue to grow -- most likely the "superconference" approach will end up weeding out those schools who don't have the stomach for (or simply don't have the resources or can't justify) this level of spending....

Provo, UT

(I should clarify that TV packages, bowl bonuses, and all other athletics income sources are included when I say that only about a dozen programs across the country make money; it's not just counting tickets and boosters.)

M Jaack, this isn't about "some" programs losing money. Roughly 90% of Division I athletics programs lose money, and I'm sure almost all other programs do as well. It is a money pit, not a profit center.

Reno, NV

I suspect a lot of universities see college sports as part of their student recruitment expense. Successful sports teams are part of the college selection process for many incoming students, and sporting events themselves provide advertising for the university.

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