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Athletics and Academics: Why do We Attend School?

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Thousands of Americans enroll in college, both 2-year and 4-year, every year. Even though a large percent of the population attends college, Americans are not the most educated people in the world. Perhaps it is because of our huge emphasis on athletics.

Even though colleges are supposed to be primarily concerned with the education of their students, they are sometimes more concerned with generating revenue from their athletics. Because of this, academic and athletic students suffer.

According to an article on Harvardpolitics.com, “In the 2012 Summer Olympics, the U.S. walked away with more gold medals than any other country. Yet Americans accept not first but 31st in global math education, 23rd in global science education, and 14th in reading when compared to these global competitors.”

This simple analysis shows that Americans are great athletes, but we are not the most academically astute. Perhaps it is because our society places such a high view on athletics and athletes. You cannot go anywhere without seeing someone wear a jersey or seeing someone wearing their favorite team’s merchandise.

Many students attend college only for the opportunity to play sports and hopefully get drafted by the next level in their sport. Whether it be the MLB, NBA, or the NFL, all of these organizations promote the idea that education is not the ultimate end of college. The average salary for a teacher in America is around $45,000. Professional athletes make millions. Which do you think our society values more?

It is no secret that athletics are a huge source of income for universities. In 2017, The University of Alabama made $173.4 million off athletics. Many universities say that athletics are what keeps the college afloat.

In 2017, Alabama coach Nick Saban made $11.125 million, including a $4 million signing bonus. The salary for an assistant professor at the same University is $65,973 per year. The University of Alabama currently employs 103 assistant professors. In fact, if you were to average all the associate and assistant professors’ salaries together, Saban makes almost the same amount per year as those 114 professors combined.

Even though athletics is a major source of income for these universities, there should not be such a huge difference in pay grades. These professors are educating the future teachers, nurses, doctors, professors, business owners, ect., of America. Which is more important: the future of America or winning a few football games?

Universities need to seriously assess which one they are more concerned with. If the old adage “where your money is, there your heart is also” is true, then it is pretty clear where the heart of many universities is.  

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