OK, so one of the arguments that's often trotted out when debating the merits of pumping money into athletics (at a very low-budget, D3, not-at-all-athletically-accomplished college), excusing students who are struggling with their courses from classes to play sports, and admitting patently unprepared students to the college so that they can play football for a year before dropping out.... Um, let me start over. One of the arguments that's often trotted out when debating the merits of the three above-cited things is that college sports brings in money. Alumni like to come back for Homecoming, and having a successful football (or, I suppose, baseball or soccer or softball) team is likely to get them to chip in a few bucks.
Setting aside for the moment that, at Field, this clearly does not work (our alums love the College but our alumni giving is in the neighborhood of 15%), what usually happens when this argument is raised is that we then begin discussing whether that works given the poverty of our teams, how much alumni actually give, whether we're abiding by the rules of D3 recruiting, etc.
But tonight it occurred to me that this rationale is patently unethical.
If we're talking about the weak students here, and not the ones who can successfully balance academics and athletics--and we are talking about them, because this is my blog--then what we're saying is that it's OK to sucker them into coming to a school for which they are not prepared, getting them to shell out a semester's or a year's worth of tuition, and then depriving them of sufficient academic support by requiring them to attend a battery of practices, weight-training sessions, and games at the (occasional) expense of class attendance and (frequent) expense of study time, all in the service of fundraising.
In what way is this not exploitation?