Thursday, May 24, 2007

on limiting scholarships

At coffee yesterday, the subject of the firing of the MSU football coach came up, and one of the members present brought up a great solution: have the Montana Board of Regents limit sports scholarships at all state-supported schools to Montana residents. Out-of-state players would have to come into the state and establish residence for at least a year before they they would become Montana residents and eligible for sports scholarships. That certainly will not sit well with the sports fans in Montana, although there are indications that out-of-state recruiting may have cut into support for the Montana State University Billings Yellowjackets in previous years.

More importantly, it might bring a better level of understanding about the role sports plays in academia. Right now, at many schools, the tail is wagging the dog. Athletics is what gets the boost from alumni. Even at the high school level, the big play is getting money from Wendy's or some other big business for a new field, but we don't hear that many of those companies are donating for new textbooks, or supporting science studies in the schools. Somehow there is a problem here.

We can also say that there has been a tremendous emphasis in recent years on celebrity. Are so many of our lives so dull that we have to live vicariously on the lives of athletes or movie/TV stars? What is the matter with us that we cannot enjoy our own lives without having to drool over Julia Roberts having a baby or Anna Nicole Smith's affairs that led to her leaving a baby behind? Is this our equivalent of the Roman bread and circuses?


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