Responding to the newly recognized cost of college sports

In a recent article appearing in the Huffington Post titled “Sports at Any Cost,” authors Brad Wolverton, Ben Hallman, Shane Shifflett and Sandhya Kambhampati examine the enormous costs of college sports in America and the burden that such expenses have on students.
In the article, the authors examine how in recent years, colleges around the country have injected vast amounts of money into their sports programs, leaving students with the burden of footing the bill.  For example, the article points out that between the years of 2010 and 2014, 71% of the revenue spent on Georgia State University’s athletic department came from student fees.  The philosophy behind massive expansions of so many college sports programs, most commonly football, is the idea that it will bring both a big payday through televised games and ticket sales, as well as attract more students.  The problem is, however, that creating a team and building a brand new stadium is not enough.  If a college football team does not perform, donors will stop writing checks, and the program will fall flat on its face.
The problem with this model, is when wealthy donors deny funding to these athletic programs, universities are forced to raise student fees in order to subsidize their investment.  This proves to be especially problematic when considering a school like Georgia State that has a student body that heavily relies on Pell-Grants to afford the cost of tuition.  A school like Georgia State has two options in this instance:  Either raise student fees on athletics (which could force many students further into debt), or cut spending to other programs.  The result either way in most cases, is students paying more for a decrease in quality of their education.  In most cases, students are unaware that they pay an athletic fee at all.
I do not deny that most of us love sports, or that attending a college with a nationally recognized program can absolutely be a point of pride for students around the country.  I wont deny either that I brag about the track record of the Trinity College Squash program every chance I get.  However, it is unacceptable and unfair to levy to cost of starting or supporting a college athletic program on the students of the university.  One student at Georgia State aptly likened this practice to betting on a game of roulette and leaving before the ball stops rolling.
This wave of athletic expansion in American Universities is dangerous, to both students and the institutions themselves.  In a nutshell, it is a massive gamble.  In one outcome, you spur a fresh new athletic program, that brings in millions of dollars of revenue through television viewership and ticket sales alone, although a group of just two dozen universities has collected half of the $25 billion revenue that has come from Division I NCAA athletics in the past five years.  On the losing end of this gamble, you may find yourself left with a diminished academic reputation, a stagnant athletic program and tuition price that asks students to give more money and go further into debt in order to support an endeavor that will probably never be of any benefit to them.
-PJP

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