Tag Archives: sports

An outside look at college football

At Culture11, Alex Massie muses on an unlikely sports obsession for a Scotsman: American college football. Here’s one of several insightful observations, appropriate for this opening day of the season:

There is [a] permanence to college football that is comparable to European soccer or rugby. True, sports teams in Europe have owners, but their sides are held in trust, beholden to the supporters and the communities that hold them dear. It is all but unthinkable that their teams could be moved as a result of an owner’s whim. Even in an age in which sport has become big business, there’s an identity and belonging that endures, rooted in a keen sense of place. College fans know this feeling, because it is their feeling too.

Read the whole thing. It makes me think back to the four years I lived in South Bend in my first job out of graduate school. Those Saturdays when there was a Notre Dame home game were horrible for traffic, and forget about having out-of-town visitors; but the whole atmosphere of the city had this happy charge to it (even in those beginning-of-the-end Bob Davie years), and the one home game I actually attended was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had. It made you glad to live in South Bend, which is not an easy thing to pull off.

It’s easy to focus on those instances of college athletics where the sports programs have basically taken over the school, crossing the line from co-curricular to super-curricular. But college sports, football especially, remain a powerful means for students and communities to identify with universities in a way that you don’t usually see with academics. And don’t forget that you can’t be dumb and be a good football player at the same time.

[ht Phi Beta Cons]

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Filed under Higher ed, Life in academia

Ranking schools for athletics and academics

Via Phi Beta Cons, here’s a ranking of the Top 50 schools for successfully combining athletics and academics. PBC wants a ranking of the bottom 50 schools using these criteria. I’d be happy if the original article would have stopped to consider that their rankings only include NCAA Division I universities and that there is more to a ranking like this than combining existing academic rankings with existing sports rankings. Small colleges, particularly Division III schools like mine and some of the NAIA schools, often do a very good job of combining athletics and academics, probably moreso than most of the Top 50 schools ranked here. The NCAA’s own web site says:

Colleges and universities in Division III place highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of all students’ academic programs. They seek to establish and maintain an environment in which a student-athlete’s athletics activities are conducted as an integral part of the student-athlete’s educational experience.

But you’ll never hear about it because we don’t participate in the BCS circus and don’t have massive research budgets.


Filed under Education, Higher ed, Life in academia