For almost 20 years now I have been participating in a personal boycott of professional spectator sports, electing to watch only amateur college sporting events, particularly those that represent the school from which I graduated. But recently, I have decided to refrain from viewing some of the university-based athletic team sports that represent even my own alma mater, specifically the sports that offer multiple scholarships to out-of-state recruits in order to potentially win championships rather than educate our local youth.
The UO is one of the few schools nationwide whose athletic department is self-sufficient due to sizeable contributions from a regional benefactor that produces overpriced athletic shoes in third-world countries for poverty-stricken urban youth, but I must discontinue my support as a spectator of university athletic events if this behavior, which takes scholarships from deserving students who have worked hard to prove themselves in the prescribed academic formula, does not cease and desist immediately.
The recruitment of students based upon physical prowess rather than academic integrity appears to be a good financial investment on the surface considering the popularity of college sports, as it apparently draws more students to the university through national recognition. But on the other hand, recruitment generates a poor return for the community that lends its support from all sides. The social impact of a successful athletic department on a local community gives the impression of being a positive influence on the surface, bringing pride to a small city like ours. But truthfully, from a perspective founded in formal education and many years of classroom teaching experience, the result of putting athletics before academics demonstrates not only the deterioration of the intellectual objectives we have for our nation, but also our social commitment to the advancement of civilization through education rather than combat.
The current formula for signing students to short-term “contracts” is a recurring theme that nobody cares to acknowledge, although it has moved me to assert my contradictory position in light of recent events involving three out-of-state university basketball players allegedly sexually violating a female student. From my point of view, in order to preserve the sanctity of the institution of formal academics, colleges and universities must refrain from recruiting out-of-state athletes and reconsider to whom they offer full-ride scholarships. Through this practice of recruiting players for their god-given athletic talents rather than their proven capacity for contributing to the intellectuality of a community, university representatives and their staff treat players as a commodity, initiating a pattern of superiority that recruited out-of-state athletes ride into our healthy communities. The student-athletes arrive having little to no attachment to the place, other than the fact that they are covertly paid to play their respective games with little objection to the atrocity by school supporters.
The 18- to 22-year-old transplants are far from home and live like they are on vacation, and other than contributing to the success of our sports teams, they invest very little into the communities they are visiting. Oftentimes they accept scholarship money and leave before graduating, taking scholarships away from more worthy candidates. And rather than augmenting the wealth of a single individual athlete from out-of-town who leaves school before completing their supposed academic objectives by investing in local students who are innately committed to the communities in which they live, institutions of formal education can refocus their energies on enhancing the well-being of the very people that support their cause.
Considering the unjust social disparity that neglects the impoverished yet self-motivated student-athletes in the high school classroom where I teach, who complete nearly every course with up to a 100 percent efficiency rating, in exchange for signing a future student-athlete who completes less than 60 percent of his passes, I make my stand, though it pains me to do so. As a soon-to-be disenfranchised alum, I will be forced to discontinue any further support of the commercialized sports at the college level (beginning with men’s football and basketball), if the UO does not commit to the true purpose of formal education as its primary concern, thus contributing to the social well-being of the community it serves.
I must also insist that the UO requires that all student-athletes who are drafted by professional sports teams and accept substantial professional sports contracts before they graduate repay their scholarship monies in full, plus interest, in order to fund the education of more viable students. In addition, the UO must curtail its out-of-state recruitment of student-athletes who are obviously committed only to their own success and unattached to our local community. — Christopher Eidemiller