Im going to have to let you go, says coach Tim Koth to another former player as he adds another notch to his belt. Its nothing personal, I like you, he says, but I have to look at this as a business. Is that what it is? I always looked at sport as an outlet, or even an opportunity; but sport is a business, that has become the cruel reality of modern day sport. This paper will discuss various aspects and show different examples of some ways in which this fact is apparent.
I am a unit, specifically, a mere employee within a corporation earning just around four thousand dollars per year. Quincy University (as well as other universities) represents the corporation; it is because of Quincy University that I will never see my four thousand dollars per year. The volleyball team, and other teams belonging to the corporation, are the manufacturersthe moneymakers. So when I, or any other employee, is not working out efficiently, then the boss needs to let me go.
As much as they (meaning, the coaches) might say that they care for the individual, their care is only skin deep. Every individual on a team is expendable, and every individual, at one point or another, will be replaced. Coaches will typically form relationships with their players on an authoritative level. The coaches will normally develop a method in which they control nearly every aspect of the players life (Sage 149). It can be anything from eating habits, extra curricular activities, and training for the associated sport, to such things as dating behaviors and other social characteristics of the normal life of a college studentits a trap.
This is the situation: a high school student with an exceptional athletic background and satisfying grades is recruited to a division one school with a healthy scholarship to play basketball. He accepts the offer and signs his National Letter of Intent which declares that if the student wishes to play for another institution he must first take a full year off from playing his designated sport. In that effect, the student athlete is bound to this institution; however, the institution is not bound to the athlete (Eitzen 111). The student has no qualms about signing this piece of paper; he feels that this is just a small price to pay in the way of higher education. After the first year of college, however, the student finds that he is incapable of competing at such a high level, and what once was a way to pay for the greater part of his education has become his downfall. His contract is non-renewable, non-negotiable; the once caring coaching staff has let him go. Since signing his letter of intent, he has no chance at playing basketball for even a division two or three school, and is left with no way to pay for his educationits a trap. Colleges should, in the future, offer two to four year scholarships to exemplify their commitment to athletes as student representatives (Eitzen 118).
In college, the athlete considers himself or herself to be an elite, which is true based on a table of progression within the National Federation of State High School Associations data, stating that only five percent of all high school athletes are able to carry their athletic career into a collegiate level (Sage 52). This is one example of the business aspect of sport. If this were not true, then anyone that wanted to play in a particular sport, could. College sport has grown from simple intramural and recreational facets of life to large-scale commercial entertainment.
We have come to an era in which sports are not only a part of our everyday life, but they almost control us. The topic arises in nearly every conversation, example: how bout them Bears?! The mention of a sporting team is a means of casual conversation, an icebreaker, and even has certain politics involved as well. Then you have your schools, the corporations, which have come to rely on sports as a means of attracting more students and other gratuities (i.e. major endorsements and other various sponsorships). One can be sure that nobody goes to Ohio State because of its outstanding fine arts division. Ohio State is first known as a competitive football producer, it is realized secondly as an educational institution. Ohio State, because of its past successes, is enthusiastically endorsed by the Nike Corporation and also has an enrollment of well over thirty thousand students. There is a buzz that resonates in the air and the minds of those in Buckeye Land, and the state-of-the-art facilities are directly related to this impact.
Another, yet crueler, aspect of college sport as a business is an example that was made public by the University of Central Florida football program in 1997. With Heisman Trophy candidate Dante Culpepper as one of the teams greater successes, the coach of the UCF Knights accepted a division 1 schedule, which included powerhouse teams such as Nebraska and Georgia State for approximately one million dollars in return. The coach commented by saying that he does not mind getting crushed mentally and physically, and that one million dollars will more than satisfy any medical needs. As it was, UCF was nearly obliterated by Nebraska physically, the players being treated merely as the aforementioned expendable units.
Is it not disgusting that universities are becoming so commercialized that student seating is often raffled off in a lottery (Eitzen 106)? Participating, whether playing or spectating, in sports was originally meant for the interest and entertainment of the students. Would it not be more ideal to have a lottery for the community outside of the university? It is, after all, the university that created the community.
These are but a few examples that have opened my eyes to college sport in the business perspective. I feel somewhat guilty in that I am a participant, and will continue to participate, in college sports even after searching into the background for these facts. Although I do not foresee much, if any, change in the future of sport, I will be ever more wary when it comes time for my blood (my children) to enter into the commercialized world of higher education.
Not only is collegiate sport concerned with business, but its leaders go to great lengths to conceal this fact (Sage 191).