Dick Harmon: Universities shouldn't ban college football

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  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    May 15, 2012 4:18 p.m.

    A point that no one has mentioned is how college football exploits the athletes. The coach is paid millions sometimes. The school gets paid, the student-athletes might get a scholarship. My guess is the majority of the kids playing football would qualify for a pell grant and get their tuition paid anyway.
    They also run the risk every game of losing a potential professional career.
    I believe we should have a system of minor league football teams simular to baseball and take the colleges out of it.

  • caleb in new york Glen Cove, NY
    May 12, 2012 2:29 p.m.

    I grew up in a sport-obsessed family and we managed ok, but now that we're older some of my siblings are rather unhealthy. That's crazy that we can spend a lot of time watching other people exercise but we often don't get enough ourselves.

    Some of the most interesting, dynamic, creative individuals and families I have met care very little or not at all about professional and collegiate sports.

  • caleb in new york Glen Cove, NY
    May 12, 2012 2:27 p.m.

    The economic benefits Dick cites could still be had if the sport was separated from universities and ran as a separate private business, i.e. a minor league for the NFL.

    Dick's argument regarding Lotulei was poorly made. Dick essentially argued that if we didn't have college football, then Lotulei couldn't have made it to professional football or have made it to be a highly sought after prospect. That's ridiculous. If colleges didn't run footballs minor leagues, then another entity would emerge to run it and Lotulei still could have made it to the pros going through the minor leagues.

    People and students don't learn that much without active participation. Such a small percentage of the students make it on the team, that its not worth it for the rest of the students to highly subsidize that small percentage. If students took the 4 hours a week it takes to watch their teams' football game and instead devoted that to their own exercise, studying, or whatever, they would be better off.

  • #1 SLC Sports Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 11, 2012 9:48 p.m.

    I do think some schools (BYU most notably) should drop their program. If Rexburg can drop their program, why not the one in Provo. It does NOT belong at LDS Church sponsored schools. Past church presidents (Joseph F. Smith) felt that way in 1903, when football was banned at church schools (it was allowed to resume in 1921 at BYU). Although only a small minority of the Quorum, some current apostles feel BYU should drop it as well. Perhaps this realignment upheaval will make others see the light particularly as the program declines in fan base due to less than stellar schedules and starts to lose money. Utah State on the other hand should be the #2 program in the state, and be the one considered for Big 12 inclusion, instead BYU was allowed to elbow them aside 50 years ago when this NEVER should have happened.

  • Runner Chandler, AZ
    May 11, 2012 1:18 p.m.

    Sorry Harmon, this is a selfish article that does not provide a helpful analysis of this popular question.

    Your comment of, "I'd argue people who attend college football games are more well-rounded individuals, more conversant, more social and fit better in civil society." is probably the low point of the article. Are you really asserting that those who enjoy college football are somehow better qualified to contribute to society? Wow, so the person majoring in music who spends their Saturdays perfecting their talent is a less contributing person to society?

    Another point - you should also consider that for every person who is able to use football as an avenue out of poor neighborhoods to gain a college education, there are many, who are basically dumped by the schools once their eligibility has expired and the "diploma" that they were basically given turns out to be of no real value to them. It is a disservice to them.

    That fact, plus the physical injuries that are so common, do not justify the low entertainment benefit derived by fans on a Saturday afternoon. Contrary to your opinion, it would do them well to forget the game and do their homework.

  • Cougar Passion Salt Lake City, UT
    May 11, 2012 12:58 p.m.

    I read the WSJ article and essentially agree with it. I think "east of Utah" also had a good point about BYU-Idaho. And I am of the understanding that BYU's football program is required to pay for itself--someone correct me if I'm wrong. I don't think head college football (or basketball!) coaches should be paid millions. College football is my favorite sport, but it shouldn't exist if it does so at a detriment to academic pursuits.

    By the way, I also agree that there are far too many serious/head injuries in football. My son plays another sport, and may well be good enough to play it in college, where things become much more intense. As much as I like football, I am frankly glad he chose not to play that.

  • TMR Los Angeles, CA
    May 11, 2012 12:16 p.m.

    I vote to ban college football or turn it into competitive flag football. A minor league football league could be formed in place of college football. Football, as presently constituted, is not a good fit for a university.

  • Go Utes! Springville, UT
    May 11, 2012 10:54 a.m.

    Why is everybody complaining about subsidizing sports? Are athletes not worth the investment? why does everybody think that footing the bill for a liberal arts department at a university is more worthwhile than funding athletics? I can promise you that all the liberal arts degrees in the country combined do not contribute as much to the national economy as the professional sports franchises from every league in the country, that is not to mention the huge impact that college football teams add to the picture.

  • rhappahannock Washington, DC
    May 11, 2012 9:49 a.m.

    It is appropriate that there is a picture of the U of U on the front. Every year U of U athletics is subsidized at ~$5 million - money that could go to real educational expenses. Why should state taxpayers be subsidizing athletics departments that are bringing in millions from TV contracts? Instead, TV money earned by state schools should pay back those subsidies and help pay for real education.

    I would encourage everyone to read the WSJ article. Well written. NFL should fund it's own minor league program, just like baseball. That way it allows marginal "students" such as Star Lotulelei to earn as much as they can without them harming the academics at universities.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    May 11, 2012 9:25 a.m.

    I think we should ban all sports.

  • east of utah Saint Joseph, MO
    May 11, 2012 8:58 a.m.

    Most of the time I am in agreement on what Harmon writes, but not this time. College football may have a place in our university system. But I believe that the role of teaching something to college students that couldn't be learned in the classroom has been lost in the way college football currently is. You only have to look north to BYU-Idaho to see that while stopping football was a loss to the community and the school, the school is better now and more students are able to participate in activities that they may not have had the opportunity to if the resources had been spent elsewhere.

  • Uncle Gadianton Salt Lake City, Utah
    May 11, 2012 8:49 a.m.

    First of all, I am a big fan of college football, and a UofU alumnus. However, there is something wrong when the University of Utah has to cancel classes to accommodate football games. The primary purpose of the University is academic pursuit. Athletics and other social or cultural activities are fine, but they must yield to the University's function as an academic institution. Looking back at my college experience, I realized that I was being forced to pay for programs that I could not participate in, and facilities that I was not allowed to use (unless I sat in a designated area and watched those who were privileged to use the facilities).

    For years, we've heard the old canard about how "football helps keep kids from gangs/ghetto/whatever evil is out there." However, other than a few anecedotes, there is no proof that the enormous amount of money being spent has made any improvement in the poverty rates for any ethnic groups. The money expended so a few dozen young men can play football would be better spent on scholarships and educational programs in poor neighborhoods, which would result in greater improvement for more people.

    May 11, 2012 8:34 a.m.

    Hey priest801 Dick Harmon writes the articles, he isn't the one who does the captions that is someone else. Great article Dick.

  • Rocket Science Brigham City, UT
    May 11, 2012 8:19 a.m.

    Don't get me wrong, I love college football, fall Saturdays are great. But there is something WRONG when schools like USU have to raise student fees to pay for efforts to upgrade their football program. If alumni and donors can't do it it should not be done. Money has become the driver for college football and when an institution can't support it with out going to the students for more fees to support it and then can't fill the stands anyway they should drop the program for more inclusive programs that serve more students and are less costly. About 20 years ago Weber State considered dropping their football program and then decided to keep spending in order to keep it.

    Answer these question Mr. Harmon how many and what schools break even on their football programs? Is that fair to students who are going into increasingly heavier debt to ask them to pay more for the football program?

  • Dwight89 SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    May 11, 2012 8:11 a.m.

    If college football and/or other sports were banned at the college level, I think a lot of young men who would otherwise not attend college would miss out on an opportunity to get a college education.

  • Big 'D' San Mateo, CA
    May 11, 2012 6:52 a.m.

    "Universities shouldn't ban college football"... or else I would be out of a job!

  • Go Utes! Springville, UT
    May 11, 2012 6:46 a.m.

    Americans are NOT overly consumed with sports, we are not more or less into sports than our friends in Germany (ever watched a Bundes leauger game?) South Africa (anyone recall the Vuvuzalas?) England (Man U)or any other first world country (go to an All Blacks game, see if you survive). Harmon is right, college football is a very important part of our society, it should not be done away with. Yes, it is expensive, yes it is dangerous, there should absolutely be changes made. But anybody who can stand in front of a fresco and admire the talent and vision it took to create it. or listen to a symphony and be awestruck by the power it creates should be able to admire the dedication and discipline that athletes put into their craft. why would anybody want to take the stage away from an aspiring collegiate musician because the music program costs more money than it brings in? It makes no sense to ban college football! College is a place where kids go to perfect their craft, why should football players be left out?

  • priest801 West Jordan, UT
    May 11, 2012 1:14 a.m.

    Hey Dick thats not Chaz Walker in your cover photo there pal. It's Jeff Battle Jr. He was a redshirt last year hence he is wearing same number as Chaz, but he looks nothing like him!!

  • satch Highland, UT
    May 10, 2012 9:55 p.m.

    Many things benefit colleges. I don't know how European Colleges have done without America football for so long. (and no, I haven't seen Oxford's college soccer team making a big splash either- cause they don't exist).

    Sports are great. But Americans are so overly consumed- you just have to see our media. Football and basketball are so too important. It would be nice if we focussed instead of sports, aka football, that we recognized all forms of excellence regardless of what area it came from made education better.

    Science brings in money from discovery. Music & arts from entertainment and human interaction, medicine from health. Heaven forbid football didn't exist in Americas Universities, we'd survive. I don't know how, but we would.

    I love sports too. But I love to see excellence where ever it is found.