I sometimes think that universities have about as much chance of pleasing everybody on campus as a fisherman has of catching every fish in the Great Lakes. Okay … announcing free tuition might come close, but other than that, forget it.
Student/Faculty approvals on university actions/decisions can range from overwhelming approval to overwhelming disapproval, with some issues making just a tiny blip on the radar. Time, place and other issues can chance the size of that blip.
One recent issue that popped up . . .
Eastern Michigan is hardly the only program that must deal with some hard financial realities regarding sports funding. Though a matter of degree, it is relatively common.
Only 12 of 231 schools on the database did not subsidize athletics at all and 151 of the total were at 50 percent or more. Toledo and Bowling Green were the only MAC schools under 60 percent in subsidies and EMU was the highest.
Elite collegiate football powers, of course, don’t particularly care. Not only that, but as much as elite programs contribute to the glitz and glamour of football, they also distort the landscape.
Discussion concerning pay for college athletes clouds the fact that the vast, vast, vast majority are participating in sports that don’t even break even.
Moreover, Title IX requirements place schools in a position of matching football scholarships with a like number of scholarships for women. That affects subsidizing and can mean either extra women’s sports or less men’s sports. Coaching salaries are also part of a myriad of factors.
Fundraising for collegiate sports is a never-ending endeavor, but subsidies – directly or indirectly – are not likely to go away. The debate, then, is how much and for what.
Winning, no doubt, sweetens the pill. Conversely, losing leaves a bitter taste. Eastern Michigan has struggled mightily in football for a couple decades, and one could easily reason that the recent student and faculty resolutions won’t help recruiting!
For its part, the university indicated it will stay the course with football and the Mid-American Conference, which over the past year has reaffirmed its commitment to Division I football.
Suffice it to say there are people on just about any campus in American that would not shed a tear should football be dropped -- or at least moved to another division. Some people don’t care for sports at all, let alone football. Moreover, tuition bills and debt are high.
I get all that. I also get what football does for athletes, players and fans.
There’s a special time for me right before the first home game each year. The band strikes up the national anthem. My hat is over my heart and I am “quietly” singing. As a veteran, I am soooo proud of my country.
Shortly after that ends, there is a lull. Flags are moving in the breeze. If there is enough of a breeze, you can actually hear the flags flapping. Suddenly, the music starts and teams rush onto the field, anxious to start after so many months of preparation and practice.
I love such moments, and I know how much I would miss them should the game disappear or be drastically altered at my own alma mater. Budgets are not easy, and I suspect the college football landscape is in for more changes. Still, my hope is that thousands upon thousands across the conference can continue to enjoy their own special fall moments at the gridiron.