Saturday, February 6, 2010


David Brooks, as he too frequently does, takes an interesting idea and reduces it to trite banalities. Yes, there are some virtues in big time college sports. But there is a price paid, by the vast majority of the players, that makes the analogy to Roman gladiators all-too-fitting.

Teaching at a small college that manages to balance team sports with academic quality, I bristle at the way Brooks glosses over the abysmal academic record of so many big-time university sports programs. The vast majority of Wofford's athletes will never play professional sports after graduation. In that, they are much like their big-time counterparts. But unlike too many of them, Wofford grads will have had coaches who care about academics, and virtually all of the student-athletes will leave the college with a degree that will equip them for a life outside sports.

It would have been nice if Brooks, while effusing over the "common emotional experiences" of the fans, had given a thought to the student-athletes in the arena.

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