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Death threats and denial for woman who showed college athletes struggle to read (cnn.com)
139 points by codelion 1377 days ago | hide | past | web | 137 comments | favorite



Can anyone explain the interrelation between sports players and college for me? We don't really have such a concept in Australia as far as I'm aware. Am I understanding correctly that to play a sport professionally a person must first attend a college and complete some degree? Why does the US even have this system? Do any other countries do this as well?


It depends on the particular sport and the leagues involved, but most future professional players will play a couple years at the college level. High-school super stars in some sports may go into the professional league directly but it's uncommon. In many sports no matter your skill level you cannot build the physique necessary to compete until a bit later in life (american football for example). Also, some leagues have implemented rules designed to prevent direct recruitment from high school, notably the NBA.

There's typically no requirement to finish college however. It's relatively common for athletes to move up to the pros and skip the last years of their academics.

The US's system is mostly due to history, but the current structure continues because it is worth an extraordinary amount of money. The schools with top athletic teams bring in revenues of 100 million or more. The governing body for college athletics generally prohibits significant payments to the athletes themselves, so all that income goes to coaches and other staff, as well as supporting businesses. College coaches are usually the highest paid people on campus. This continues to be a bitter political topic, because many people see it as unfair that college athletes are generating so much money for everyone but themselves. The other side points out that allowing paid recruitment and player endorsement/advertising would have a corrupting effect as well as make it difficult for smaller schools to be competitive.

As far as I know, our system is unique, and that's probably because we were televising college athletics earlier and more heavily than other nations.


> As far as I know, our system is unique, and that's probably because we were televising college athletics earlier and more heavily than other nations.

It's not just that it's televised, it's that sports are tied to schools and colleges at all. Netherland has tons of youth sports, but all in indepdent, often volunteer-run clubs. For many sports (football and hockey[0] at least) there's a youth league for every two-year age group, and after the last one, when you're 18, you move to the adult leagues. Those are generally amateur leagues, but professional football clubs have their own youth programs (playing in the same leagues) and recruit from all clubs in the vicinity (not to mention rival clubs and foreign countries).

[0] And here I mean the football where a round ball is played with the foot, rather than American Football; and the hockey that's played on a field, rather than ice hockey.


The US has the same type of youth leagues that aren't affiliated with any school. I don't know of any non-school football leagues for kids older than 14 but most decent-sized cities have adult football leagues. For other sports like baseball, softball, soccer, tennis, etc, there are tons of non-school leagues for all ages.


> College coaches are usually the highest paid people on campus.

Not only that, in most states they are the highest paid of all public employees: http://www.fastcodesign.com/1672861/infographic-whos-your-st...


However, unlike most public employees, they are always one or two bad seasons away from being fired.

A typical public sector job, particularly a university job, is almost the closest thing you can get to lifetime assured employment (most often at a salary that's not great, but with very good benefits and enormous amounts of paid time off).

Coaches though are much more accountable for their performance. If they don't win games, they get fired.

Edit: also it's only the head coaches of elite revenue-generating football and basketball programs that are very highly paid. The coaches of non-revenue sports have much more modest salaries.


Also unlike most public employees, they are typically entitle to massive buyout clauses if they are fired. For instance, UCLA's new men's basketball coach would be entitled to $10.4mm if he were fired prior to 2016.

1. http://www.sbnation.com/college-basketball/2013/7/9/4505884/...


Here in Indiana, for a couple of years in the early 2000s, the highest paid public "employee" was a basketball coach that had been fired, but was still getting paid according to his contract.


And, as public employees, they're often eligible for public pension programs, as well. Someone could coach for a couple of years and then spend the rest of their career as a janitor, but still retire with a 6 or 7 figure pension.


Most baseball players go to the minor leagues right out of high school.


The general lack of interest in minor-league baseball also shows one reason why other sports aren't keen to move to that model (though the long history each sport has built up makes that kind of change pretty hard to do anyway).

From a marketing perspective, college sports are a minor league that comes with a built-in fanbase, the students & alumni at the universities (especially large universities). The top end of college sports teams are essentially the NFL's and NBA's minor league outfits, but compare how many fans and attention a Texas, Michigan, USC, Stanford, etc. game gets (in either football or basketball) to what a minor-league baseball team gets...


That is interesting. When the local third league football team plays, here in my part of Germany, the stadium is packed. I recently read a news report about how our local government is complaining that the police operation surrounding the game costs 100.000€ per game for that third league team.


When my university's football team plays a home game, there are usually 110,000 people in attendance. The streak of 100,000+ people for each home game goes back to 1975.


In terms of attendance, the top college teams beat even professional teams. The 13 largest stadiums in the US are all for college football [1]. You have to go all the way to number 14 before you get to a stadium used for professional sports.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._stadiums_by_capaci...


Some of that is due to being older stadiums, though. U.S. professional stadiums used to have more capacity, because they were just rows and rows of bleachers. The trend in the past few decades in professional sports has been towards more of the space being used for lower-density "premium" seating like skyboxes and fewer bleachers, reducing the seat count. College sports usually have less funding for new stadiums though, and their market is a bit different (more regular fans paying out of pocket, less demand for corporate skyboxes). Hence you have something like the LA Coliseum, capacity 93,000, used by USC's college football team, but considered an "obsolete" stadium by the NFL and MLB, who used to use it but moved out.


That might be the case for some teams, but a lot of NFL teams have trouble consistently selling out the smaller stadiums that they already have.


It's not just college. Apparently sports are also a big part of high school, with money supporting a schools competitive team coming directly from the school budget.

That is simply not at all how it works here. You of course have sports education in school, but it is not competitive and you can't choose either.


Competitive high school sports are definitely part of American culture. Though most teams are not fully-funded by the school system, they have to fund-raise and/or pay fees as well. Coaches are usually also teachers at the school, though this is not always the case.


>The governing body for college athletics generally prohibits significant payments to the athletes themselves, so all that income goes to coaches and other staff, as well as supporting businesses.

Most of the money goes to the university itself.


As far as I can tell, this is a uniquely American phenomenon, and how we got here could easily be the subject of a full research paper.

Here's my theory:

It all starts with Harvard and Yale wanting a leg up on each other in their football rivalry, which dates back to 1875. Professional football did not start in the US until many years later. Football, and to some degree basketball and other sports, came to represent a very serious way for colleges to express rivalries with each other.

Seriously: "After The Game of 1894, which came to be known as the "Hampden Park Bloodbath" and about which newspapers reported seven players carried off the field "in dying condition," the two schools broke off all official contact including athletic competition for two years."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvard%E2%80%93Yale_football_r...

As such, each institution became hell-bent on defeating the other at football, which led to the relaxing of academic standards to admit superior athletes. Things have spiraled out of control from there. Many schools now face very serious pressure from alumni and other donors who demand athletic success. Recruiting top high school athletes is an extremely shady business, as both schools and athletes have a lot at stake.

Harvard, Yale, and the other Ivy League schools today do not do this to the extent that some others do and have policies against awarding scholarships based on athletics-- they are small and elite institutions that can't get away with admitting students who literally cannot read. But even the schools with these policies admit athletes who would probably not get in based on their academics alone.


That's not really it. You don't need a degree to play professional sports, and some of the most talented players skip directly into professional leagues without finishing college. But college is where they have the best chance of honing their abilities and getting noticed.

College sports is all about money. Consider this map:

http://deadspin.com/infographic-is-your-states-highest-paid-...

Why are the mostly highly paid "public servants" in most states athletic coaches? Because the public universities make huge amounts of money from sports: the TV licensing deals, the ticket sales, the merchandising.

The players get paid nothing -- at most they get their tuition waived.


>Why are the mostly highly paid "public servants" in most states athletic coaches? Because the public universities make huge amounts of money from sports: the TV licensing deals, the ticket sales, the merchandising.

That's not why.

The coaches are paid a ton because were they to quit, they could be paid a ton somewhere else.

Why would they be paid a ton somewhere else?

Because other colleges want to win!

Why do they want to win?

Because without their football team, schools like Alabama and Texas and USC and and and would have ZERO credibility.


Zero credibility?? I can't speak for Alabama but I know several people who went to Texas and USC for the education. Both have strong (top 15 [1,2]) engineering programs, USC has well known med, law and film schools, UT Austin is labeled a "public Ivy" and has a law school, and highly ranked architecture school as well. Both schools have several other well known departments.

If football left it would definitely hurt these two schools. However, they have a LOT of academic credibility aside from athletics.

[1]http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-gradu...

[2]http://coe.berkeley.edu/about/rankings.html


If these schools never had the huge football programs, yes they would have zero credibility.

Without the notoriety and prestige granted by their athletic programs, no one would respect their academics.

For a recent example, witness the transformation of USC from a joke of a school (academically) to a somewhat respected, some might even say moderately prestigious (!!) university. A transformation which coincided 100% with their successful football program.

The great team builds recognition. It builds respect. You graduated from a school which is a football powerhouse, people respect you. Even if you graduated decades before they rose to football prominence. Even if you never cared about football. People want to be affiliated with success, thus they want to be affiliated with you.


If you're a naïve boogerbrain, they don't get paid anything. Then why do they wear expensive clothes and drive sports cars? They get plenty of 'in kind' gifts and privileges. Colleges are investigated all the time for outright bribing promising students.


> Colleges are investigated all the time for outright bribing promising students.

I think you mean "promising athletes". I guarantee colleges do not care how these young people perform as students.


Do any NFL players go directly from high school? I think I've heard of a few NBA players that have come close and MLB has its own minor league system so they recruit directly from high school.


No, NFL has a gentleman's agreement with NCAA-FB. A highschool graduate would have to sit out 3[1] years before being eligible to tryout for the NFL. They could play in Arena football or CFL. Uni is the best path because you have competition and training.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Football_League_draft#...


Nope. It's because of physical development more than skill. A top tier 18 year old body can hang in the NBA but would get wrecked in the NFL.


In the NBA, the current rule is a draftee must be 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft and one year out of high school.

There were players in the past who have gone straight from HS before the rule was in place. Most notable, Lebron James.


Yes and no. Ideally it's just a university sports team. But now college sports have gone from university students playing football in their spare time to exceptional athletes who attend classes in their spare time.

Some universities, such as UNC and Virginia Tech, have seen massive profits by selling merchandise thanks to these sports teams, and have made sports a higher priority than the actual academics. Now younger people are choosing to attend universities based on their sports team rather than the academics.

Anyone who disrupts this big business of college sports can expect to feel massive backlash from the university and the crazed fans of the sports teams.


And as someone else pointed out, the coach of the teams get paid more than the president of the university!

They get paid more than even their most valuable professors!


I haven't met a professor yet that could pack a 25000 seat arena.

Good professors hold chairs which are paid by endowments. So maybe a few million $ a year in donations. Good coaches can make a few million $ on a good weekend. If they make it to the bowls, 10-20 million $.


Sorry, but that system is so utterly strange to me. I really do not have the ability to understand this. Might be my problem, might be a cultural problem, as I am not an American.

But in what universe could this be a good thing? What does sports do for the development of mankind? It distracts, it is just "panem et circensis"[1] and it is nothing more than a big business.

So the people trying to teach people the ability to better the world have to "fight for the scraps" while others reap the benefits of telling youngsters to run faster, kick harder or throw better?

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panem_et_circenses


Sports teach various kinds of dedication and teamwork, inside a framework where you get strong immediate feedback and conclusive results on a regular schedule. It also demonstrates vigorous competition within a system of rules, and instructs participants and fans in the occasional randomness of rewards and importance of perseverance-through-losing, and graciousness-in-winning. These are all important cultural values for a big, contentious, competitive society.

It's also the original "reality" programming, unscripted and unpredictable, with a constant stream of life-stories and morality-plays, which can be covered as 'news' relatively cheaply. It's not just 'bread and circuses', but actual moral instruction: modern constantly-refreshed mythology, always available for casual discussion with acquaintances and strangers.

The strong linkage with US higher-education isn't strictly logical, but tradition and economic symbiosis has entrenched the relationship. The large-audience collegiate sports help market and fund entire college communities, providing a focal point for common entertainment-outings, loyalty-displays, reunions, fundraising. In its absence, people might be relatively more parochially-aligned with just their hometowns, or faiths, or social class, or careers.


Well, yes, but sports can possibly teach that only for those who play e.g. team. So, if the team excludes average students and take only almost professionals in, most students do not get to learn any of those things.

So, you have maybe 30 player learning those things while trying to get into paid adult league and the rest of students being fans learning essentially nothing.


At almost any university, any student who's not skilled enough or dedicated enough for the varsity teams can join intramural or club sport teams. Nobody is excluded.


Fans benefit vicariously from many of the lessons I mentioned. (Sure, they don't get the full interpersonal practice of teamwork and direct competition... but they observe the personnel, life stories, controversies, and dramatic results. And they discuss all that with other fans to deepen relationships and mutual understandings. That's why it's like a constantly-renewed mythology in its cultural-instructive power.)


Your mistake is in assuming that it is about things like "running", "kicking", and "throwing". Sport is about the subjugation of human, by another human. It doesn't do anything for the development of humankind as a whole - that is the point. Things like sportsmanship and game rules exist to prevent full regression to our savage roots.

I do think competition is a healthy and necessary trait for individual development. Meanwhile, education holds the potential of freedom from subjugation for all humans... The balance is disturbed.


Perhaps I've been trolled, but I'd have to disagree strongly. Sports might be seen as some kind of ritualized conflict, I guess, but then how is that different than any other kind of gameplay? Take chess, for instance - it is all about strategy and tactics in service to the intellectual domination, subjugation, and eventual defeat of one's opponent. But so what? It's damned fun, which is a worthy end in itself, and I believe that chess play hones the mind even as it entertains the players.

Likewise, sports are fun! But if you need further justification, their play teaches us valuable physical and social skills - teamwork, graciousness, poise, coordination, fitness, and so on - that even if you aren't entertained by a particular sport, surely you can see its potential value in other dimensions.

I guess my point is that not all human education is intellectual. It is experiential, and it is physical, and social, and moral, too.


Chess is more of an individualist game where the world championship will be won by one guy rather than "Team USA".

It's also more difficult to follow than say soccer to people not intimately familiar with the game.


Fischer vs Kasparov and Fischer vs Spassky was very much Team USA vs Team Soviet Union and not just two guys playing chess. People in Norway tuned in to the 2013 Finals to see Team Norway play, not to see some random guy called Magnus.


> Perhaps I've been trolled,

You've never read from people who genuinely frame things in a dismal light? I've read a lot from people that view a lot of social interaction as exactly "subjugation". The simplest example is materialism and acquiring status symbols. Some take it further to more intimate group dynamics. Does this mean that other people are trash that you should just avoid? No, and most people plain need social interaction in order to stay sane. But it can be a useful frame-of-reference sometimes, if only for the philosophical value.

> but I'd have to disagree strongly. Sports might be seen as some kind of ritualized conflict, I guess, but then how is that different than any other kind of gameplay?

Indeed. Some people think of any kind of structured competition as a sport, so all of what you said still applies. Playing videogames competitively, for example (e-sports).

> But so what?

Yes, why ever look further than the surface? Because it's sometimes valuable to look at seemingly innoucous (or not - hooligans) phenomenoms and trying to look behind the most apparent dynamics. Sports is a fun pasttime for some/most people, with some competiveness, but perhaps not enough to cause any harm at all. It is also an incredibly socially accepted - heralded even - way of channeling some of the more anti-social human traits. If I'm feeling jealous, I feel that there's something wrong with me. If I feel spiteful, I feel that there's something wrong with me. If I feel like physically dominating someone else, against their will? Just pick up some of the more physically demanding sports and be worshipped as a hero. Coax it in some fake humility and "sportsmanship", and you've got a show for the whole family. That's funny to me.

Some atheletes will get a bad rap when they are obviously being cocky and showing off. But being the best and feeling like the best was the goal all along!

It seems to me, in my uneducated opinion, that while humans are social creatures, they are too tribal to be altruistic on the larger, macro level. People are divided by nationality, culture, ethnicity and so on. Team sports? Yet another tribe for people to belong to, and to antagonize other teams from (sometimes in a more friendly manner than others ;) ). There is a lot of social dynamics when it comes to football supporters.

Sports isn't the only thing that is disturbing to me, at some level. Violent video games are really fun, but the implications are disturbing. Yet, from what I've read, people who play these games are less violent, perhaps because they (we!) get a way to channel our violent streak. (Which is also a disturbing thought.) Maybe it's the same for sports? Many more than me have been disturbed by the implications of violent video games (I haven't been disturbed by the violence - I'm too used to it), but practically no one things of any kind of sports as being anti-social.

But yeah. So what?

> Likewise, sports are fun! But if you need further justification, their play teaches us valuable physical and social skills - teamwork, graciousness, poise, coordination, fitness, and so on - that even if you aren't entertained by a particular sport, surely you can see its potential value in other dimensions.

Take any sport to a higher and higher level, and it will always distill down to one thing - being the best (that's what you are left with with the top athletes at the top). That's inherently a comparative quality, and than you are left with the only choice of "subjugating" your opponents. A high-level athlete will think nothing of sacrificing fitness, physical health etc. for being the best. Is this necessarily that applicable to most practicioners of a sport? No, but it is the top athletes who are basically worshipped, they're not simply people who have taken a "fun pasttime" and gone full-geekery on it - they are, in some circles, viewed as the ultimate expression of that sport. Not as, "geeze, man, get a life".


> Take chess, for instance

Some consider chess a sport.


> I do think competition is a healthy and necessary trait for individual development.

There you have it. I tend to disagree. I see this as one of humanities problems. These unquestioned ideologies.

I believe, that competition should only be with one self. I try to get better. Better then yesterday, last week, last year, last try. But I do not try, to rise above my pears in comparison to them. To feel better, by looking at everybody I leave behind from above.

The only one I try to beat am I. I try to do everything, to be a better person, every single day. I am still learning - and will hopefully do that for the rest of my days. I am human, I am fallible.

But my past performance is my personal yardstick. Not your performance, or anybody's. I do not need your example, as a motivation.


That's a pretty tortured definition of sport.


Not so tortured a definition for spectator sports though.


> I really do not have the ability to understand this.

Sure you do. There is nothing in the universe more important than money. Simply get past your belief that the American university system is about anything noble and realize it is just another money making scheme.

The education part is just a cover to keep the illusion alive. If you focus you can learn there, but you simply need to realize your worth to the school is as a paying fan. If you want it to be anything else, you're on your own to figure that out.


> Sure you do.

No. I don't. I do not understand, cannot grasp any such concept of "money is everything" or such concepts of state, borders and so on. I am a human. I have fellow humans. Some of them are nice. Most of them are idiots. These are my categories, in which I view the word.

There is no such thing as homophobia, islamophobia, money makes the world go round, or any other of these so called "normal" ideologies. No such thing as "this god" or that deity.

So no, I really do not have the ability, to understand these concepts. I can analyze them rationally, I can look at them, like sitting in a lab, examining them, but I can never understand these concepts on a basis of experience or to see things from the concepts's perspective...

That was, what I was trying to convey...


It's a good thing because capitalism.

Well honestly there is nothing like a good football team to bring in funding for schools. That causes schools to focus highly on sports because at the end of the day they just want as much money as possible. It's really sad actually.


I've yet to meet a coach who can pack a 25,000 seat arena either. They usually need other coaches, a team of players, and an opposition.

Most good professors aren't in endowed chairs. Something like 1/3rd of the professors at the best schools are endowed. A state school like the University of Illinois has about 10-20%.

Nor do most of the professors bring in money through endowments and gifts. Much more is brought in through grants, like through the NIH and NSF, and from state funding. (That's a general statement. There are many exceptions.)

There's also tech transfer agreements. Consider this quote, about taxol synthesis developed at Florida State:

> In 1996, Florida State University was the envy of the tech-transfer world of U.S. research institutions. That year alone, the university's research foundation received more than $28 million in Taxol royalties. By decade's end, the university's Taxol revenue would top $200 million, among the largest patenting pay-offs for a single university in history.

That's one professor who brought in over $20 million per year, for a decade. (By comparison, the current FSU football program brings in now about $36 million in revenue, and $17 million in profit.)

And as for the coaches, very few college programs can bring in a few million dollars per game, and only the 6 playoff bowls have team payouts of over $10 million, so that's at most 12 universities with that success.


Many of the highly-paid elite coaches also either directly fund or by virtue of their reputation and network attract funding for endowments or gifts.


So noted. However, in the numbers I saw for the University of Illinois budget, the total endowments and gifts was about 1/7th of that of grant funding.

I have not done any extensive analysis of this. My comment was mostly to highlight that the previous poster was making statements that I could not easily accept as being true.


25,000 is a bit on the small side for major universities. The university I went to just kicked off a construction project to increase the stadium capacity to over 100,000.

A few miles north of where I currently live, the high school football stadium seats 18,000 [0].

[0]: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eagle_Stadium_(Allen,_Texas)


The only high schools here in Scotland that have anything like stadiums, just a single stand really, are the rugby crazed private schools in Edinburgh. For example, here is a blog entry about the Stewarts Melville main pitch (of 6) at Inverleith in Edinburgh where I often spend time watching my son play:

http://ian38018.blogspot.co.uk/search?updated-max=2011-05-25...

Also, I couldn't help noticing that the Eagle Stadium is paid for by taxpayers.... :-)


The university I attended had 75,000 seats, when I left. They've added skyboxes, extended and raised it since.

I was being conservative because I assumed nonUS HNers would assume I was making these numbers up.


Maybe not, but I have certainly met professors that have led research that universities have spun off into highly profitable companies. And even without worrying about direct money-generating capacity, it's having the best research teams that allows the big name universities to demand the ridiculous tuition fees that they charge. Yet coaches are paid more. I can only conclude that many university presidents actually wanted to own sports teams, and this is how they have got their wish...


In a majority of states, the highest-paid public employee is a college football coach. In another 11 it's the basketball coach (Minnesota is a tie between the two). In eleven it's a college dean (usually the medical school), president/chancellor, or similar.

http://deadspin.com/infographic-is-your-states-highest-paid-...


As well as the money-spinner leagues, are there amateur (that's possibly not quite the right word for it, but the big college teams are clearly professional in all but name) leagues of the same sport for students who really are there to study and just want to play some inter-collegiate sports as well?


Yes, I believe the terms are intramural and intermural leagues for ordinary students.


It does seem strange compared to the UK system as well. Here, for football (soccer), most people would join a club or youth team at 16 or so. Nobody expects football players in the UK to have brains. I can think of only a couple of footballers with a college degree - Graham Le Saux and Steve Coppell, I believe. Joey Barton has A Levels but is probably not a good advertisement.


On the other hand .. Australia has a huge sports-worship culture, akin to the US in many ways with regards to ferocity and cult behaviour among the proponents. I've never understood how it is that certain realms of Australian culture think that being a sporty person is more important than being an intelligent, well-informed person - but there is some sort of cultural disassociation between these two worlds that appears to be culturally driven.

In the US, its been driven even further in that there are billion-dollar industries behind the sports cult. Perhaps thats the ticket: sport is a cult because there's money to be made.


Evolution has ingrained competitiveness in us and its our way of proving our little section of the world produces better things than yours.

A mostly wasteful use of resources but to the majority this is a sufficient way to prove your city/state/country is better than another. I'd rather see who can fly the furthest into space but eh enjoy what you got.


Culture ingrains competitiveness. It is why we are in such a mess.

Evolution ingrains cooperation. It is why we have come so far as a species, as we have.


Am I right in assuming you have below-pro level "farm leagues"? In the States, for various historical and financial reasons, some sports will effectively replace their farm leagues with Division I inter-collegiate sports.


This is probably the case. However, I don't see how it is relevant to education (other than money mentioned elsewhere). "Minor/second/.." leagues could survive on their own. No need to take schools into account.


I highly recommend the 1994 film Hoop Dreams[1]. It provides a look into the world where school meets sport.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoop_Dreams


Also, South Park Episode "Crack Baby Athletic Association" skewers the college sports system in the US.

http://beta.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s15e05-crack-...


In addition to the responses already entered, the NFL (in combination with the NFLPA, the union that represents players) also requires athletes entering the draft to be three years out of high-school (typically 21 years old in the US).

So, even if you happen to have the physical aptitude to play professionally at age 18, you are barred from doing so.


In the U.S. a number of sports developed first at the college level. American Football, in particular, was developed and popularized by colleges (particularly the Ivy League schools, and particularly by Yale). Collegiate football remained more popular than professional football well into the early 20th century.


People play while at college, I thought. The colleges make money off of the media spectacle. Lots of the players are good at sports, but not good at any of the things they are supposed to be in college for.

(But I'm no American, and have only visited once. So take my explanation with a pot of salt.)


> We don't really have such a concept in Australia as far as I'm aware.

There do seem to be university sports leagues in Australia, they just aren't taken as seriously afaict, e.g.: http://www.aurl.com.au/


While university sport certainly exists, the major differences are that i) they don't generate any revenue, and ii) student athletes don't receive any advantage in university admissions.


In the USA, only mens basketball and football typically generate revenue. Maybe in some areas baseball or hockey might. Those programs support the vast majority of athletes (track and field, swimming, soccer, lacrosse, tennis, volleyball, wrestling, etc. as well as all the women's teams) who are in programs that do not generate any revenue.


I would say hockey probably only does for the big hockey schools in the US. In other places, especially high school, hockey is a club sport so the players pay for everything. Which is the complete opposite of football.


It's not that they're not taken seriously, just that they're not in any way a requirement to be a professional player. To play cricket, aussie rules, rugby, hockey, netball and so on at the professional level doesn't require a feeder system of athletes from the tertiary education sector. Professional athletes also aren't introduced by sportscasters as 'name, college'.

Who knows, it might catch on. Other American sports oddities have, like that annoying singing of the national anthem before each match and providing a role for athletic women in professional sports by making them cheerleaders...


A tradition of friendly competition turned into a huge business.

The leagues have some rules about when players can be drafted, but those rules are more about simplifying and reducing competition in recruiting than they are about the players.



College football, at least, might as well be a minor league. The stars play for two years, abandon their degree, and join the NFL. You'd have to be very naive to think that the athletes at top div 1 programs are true "student-athletes". Look at Penn State for a prime example of toxic "athletics are everything" college football culture. Look at the numerous recruitment scandals in which players or players' families were offered money or perks in exchange for matriculation. So they can't read? Play calling cards are images anyway. That's the attitude at these schools.


On a side note, and without wanting to complain about Penn State specifically: I spent a few weeks in State College, PA a few years ago as a student (coming from Germany) and was extremely weirded out. I felt as if I was visiting from another planet.

Overall, most things I saw while in the US, I could relate to in some way (industrious New York, beggars in Philadelphia, the tourist traps of New York, the hectic fast food restaurants), but I never managed to connect to the "college town experience" even though I had something like four weeks to do so.

Everything seemed to be curated, just like some footage of childhood christmas you see on television. Students and the interests of students dominated the entire experience. I felt as if I was visiting a theme park.

Funnily enough, I only tangentially registered the obsession with sports that seems to be very prevalent there. What I distinctly remember is wondering, why the "Academic Bookstore" had more Sports apparel and team merchandise than books in it.

It is hard to say if any meaningful insight can be gained from my personal experience there. I heared somewhere that going to college is an important way for young people in the US to escape culturally difficult surroundings (say, a radically religious community), but IMO it feels kind of sad that the college world is so separated from the rest of US culture.


I agree. For those familiar with soccer in Europe, take a look at the system they have in place there. Athletes on a path to professional sports join private sports clubs early on and (1) mature athletically much faster and (2) quickly have the potential to earn money for playing. Professional sports is a legitimate career which doesn't really require a college education, so we could really learn from Europe's clean division between school and sports.


I think the football players in Europe are also pretty uneducated, though not being active in a college or uni nobody really cares. We just take it for granted.

My problem with football is the toxic environment that develops around it, all the abusive fans (a bunch of misogynist, homophobes, xenophobes and racist lowlifes), all the damn betting agencies - the black spot in any neighbourhood, all the scandals about bribes and such.

It's a shame, because the sport itself is very nice.


> It's a shame, because the sport itself is very nice.

I think fundamentally the problem is in watching other people sport. Sport is great for people to do. As entertainment for mass consumption, it's not so great.


While there are plenty of toxic attitudes and behaviors in American sport as well, it seems (from a distance) that the European football system is worse.

It might be that the laundering of loyalties through colleges helps the US a bit here. The 17-23 year-old athletes are inside, and must feign allegiance to, a system of more supervision and higher educational aspirations. Many fans acquire collegiate affiliations far from their home region, and the overall fan base might lean more college-educated, because of all the co-marketing during college years.


I think you basically just get the lowest common denominator when it comes to sports fans. Kind of like when you walk into any walmart in the US.


>> "Professional sports is a legitimate career which doesn't really require a college education, so we could really learn from Europe's clean division between school and sports."

I really hope that was sarcasm and I'm just missing it. I don't think the American system is all that great but seriously, have you listened to an English footballer give an interview? They can barely string a sentence together. Think of the kids who believe as you say, it's a legitimate career. The ones who then don't become professional and can't get a job as they left school so early.


I'm pretty sure that more than 90% of them can read...


But nobody pretends they can


At more than an 8-9 reading age? That's probably true for the premiership. If we included the lower leagues... I wouldn't take that bet.


Well, according to the research in question so can 92% of University of North Carolina football players. What's your point?


I don't think they can read well... I am sure a lot of them would score below average in national reading tests.


> "have you listened to an English footballer give an interview?"

People who play sport with nearly all their time from age 10 or so are going to be less academically developed - that's not necessarily a tragedy in and of itself, although it might be a shame.

That's not the issue here. The issue is that in the USA, apparently, these athletes are all enrolled in higher education courses that they will either fail or drop out of. In the UK, and Europe, athletes aren't required to pursue such courses as part of their athletic development - they can go straight from school to professional sport, via privately run clubs which maintain youth teams and leagues.


Which brings up another point. If the players are responsible for bringing in so much revenue why not just make it legal to pay them?


> Look at Penn State for a prime example of toxic "athletics are everything" college football culture.

> Look at the numerous recruitment scandals in which players or players' families were offered money or perks in exchange for matriculation.

I graduated from Penn State in 2011--the year before the Sandusky scandal broke. It was easily the darkest time for my school, and I don't know a single person who wasn't feeling a mix of horror, shame, and disgust at what went on. While the connection between the football program and Sandusky's actions (a retired coach since 1998) leaves room for disagreement amongst reasonable people, Penn State is one of the few schools that handles student athleticism properly. Recruiting scandals, perks from boosters, and lackluster academic achievement from student athletes are problems that Penn State solves as well as any school out there.

The New America Foundation ranks top-25-BCS-ranked football programs by academic achievement of their players. Anytime Penn State's football team was ranked in the top 25 in the BCS, they have also ranked highly (usually #1) in New America's "Academic Bowl".[1]

I'd also like to point out the fascinating example set by John Urschel. He finished his math undergrad degree in three years with a 4.0 GPA[2]. He then finished his math masters degree the following year, again with a 4.0 GPA[3]. He has written academic research articles[4]. He writes software[5]. He teaches an undergrad math course[6]. He's also a graduating offensive lineman with a real shot at the NFL. He's weighing that prospect against the option of pursuing a Ph.D[7].

[1] http://higheredwatch.newamerica.net/blogposts/2012/the_2012_..., http://higheredwatch.newamerica.net/blogposts/2009/third_ann..., http://www.newamerica.net/blog/higher-ed-watch/2008/second-a...

[2] http://www.personal.psu.edu/jcu5018/cv.html

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] http://www.personal.psu.edu/jcu5018/publications.html

[6] http://www.personal.psu.edu/jcu5018/cv.html

[7] http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/sportsman/news/20131204/joh...


although your point may be valid in general, you're pretty wrong about penn state:

http://news.psu.edu/story/293418/2013/10/30/athletics/penn-s...


I was actually referring to the Sandusky scandal and how Paterno knew Sandusky was sexually abusing children and let the legal process die with minimally plausibly deniable effort.


I've been under the impression that Paterno, while he didn't continue to pursue beyond the legal minimum, did push it up to the people who were supposed to handle such things (head of security/college president) and they were the ones who actively covered it up. Is that incorrect?


> The stars play for two years, abandon their degree, and join the NFL. You'd have to be very naive to think that the athletes at top div 1 programs are true "student-athletes" [..] So they can't read? Play calling cards are images anyway. That's the attitude at these schools.

This is what I was responding to, and at least at Penn State, it's measurably false.

> I was actually referring to the Sandusky scandal and how Paterno knew Sandusky was sexually abusing children and let the legal process die with minimally plausibly deniable effort.

I don't disagree with you on that point, football culture can absolutely be toxic, and Penn State is a perfect example of how it can go wrong.


He might have been referring to the this whole situation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerry_Sandusky which contains many elements of the 'athletics are everything' mindset.


Who's sending death threats? People who make money off having good athletes in universities regardless of their education levels? Athletes who are afraid of being kicked out? Other? Four death threats seems awfully high for such a topic.

And what was the university thinking? Seems like denying knowledge of the report and claiming they can't comment on it without data (to CNN, not to a high school newspaper) was a terrible move given they had not only been given the reports, but had paid for the data which was in them.


As I get older and more aware I see rampant misogyny popping up wherever a woman challenges pretty much anything, and often merely for just existing. For something highly emotional like sports, such a reaction seems perfectly in line with what I see day to day, sadly. It's probably nobody with any power of even making any money off sports, quite the opposite, I'm sure.


Because clearly, men don't get death threats or get investigated by the FBI when they challenge the football establishment or other sports stars.

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/i-team/men-indicted-threat...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2337813/Anonymous-ha...

Nor would a man ever get death threads just for the lulz.

http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/4chan-bullied-the-og-youtub...

It doesn't take a lot. I write a not very popular blog, most of which is posts like "Scala is slow" or "Analyzing conversion rates with Bayes rule", and I've gotten an email or two expressing hope that harm would come to me [1].

[1] "if u get your wish just wait the cops womt protect you when underclas riot and hurt u". This was in response to a moderately popular blog post advocating that you should do a back of the envelope calculation to see if a public policy proposal makes sense ( http://www.chrisstucchio.com/blog/2013/basic_income_vs_basic... ).


No one implied men didn't get death threats, settle down. However, it is true that women are targeted much more (especially when they are challenging mens sports).

There exist many in this world who wish all women were in the exact same position they were in the 50's.


A study in the early 90s found women featured 35 times as much as victims in Canadian news headlines than men. Not a typo.

Yes, this is just one data point, but it's a pretty unambiguous one. And of course, such studies tend to only happen once, as people with feminist agendas tend to ensure they do not get confirmed.

Do you think this might skew your perception of how often people of either gender get harassed?


> A study in the early 90s found women featured 35 times as much as victims in Canadian news headlines than men. Not a typo.

So? This doesn't say anything about actual rates of threats or harassment directed against men or women.


Give a link to said study or go back to /r/theredpill.


You

>However, it is true that women are targeted much more (especially when they are challenging mens sports).

You

>Give a link to said study or go back to /r/theredpill.

Hypocrite.


epistasis was talking about women's experiences and misogyny, sorry that seems to bother you


I think what he was trying to say is that these actions aren't really related to misogyny at all since they are also directed towards men, but general human idiocy.


Exactly. If something happens to both men and women, you need to do a lot more work (i.e., get data) to show misogyny.

All this article gives us evidence for is general nutty sports fan behavior.


> Exactly. If something happens to both men and women, you need to do a lot more work (i.e., get data) to show misogyny.

This isn't really the case. Misogyny can be a part of actions or threats targeted against women even if men have received threats in similar circumstances. The question simply comes down to the content of the threat and how often women receive threats that explicitly call out their gender or use slurs that are intended to be used against women specifically.


I think it is generally agreed upon that white males can say things that others can't say without running into death threats. It is also generally agreed upon that women are more likely to be abused for saying things.

That being said, epistasis's reasoning is still wrong. A kind reading blames the difference on misogyny, suggesting the non-misogynists send death threats to males and females alike. But that would only be true if a large portion of the people that send death threats to females would do so out of misogyny and not out of, e.g., an unconscious perception of women as easier to troll. You may argue the reality of that perception and you may want to change that, but disagreeing with it doesn't make it misogyny. That's just labeling every bit of discriminatory behavior as 'misogyny', which comes down to redefining the term.

Apart from being wrong, I think it is unwise to use language so bluntly. It makes most readers think "well, I'm not a misogynist, so nothing here applies to me", when the real thought should be "yes, interesting, how likely am I to discriminate against women? Can I identify the possibly subtle effects that lead to this discrepancy?".


Death threats and criticism do not construe misogyny whenever they are directed towards a woman, but only when they happen because she is a woman, and wouldn't happen if a man was in an equivalent situation. I'm not convinced that is the case here. According to my observation of the world, football fans tend to be aggressive towards just about everyone (and everything).


Working out whether the threat of violence is because they're a woman, instead of merely referencing gender, is difficult. Hence violence and death threats are typically classed as misogyny if they reference gender, regardless of any causality.


> The person was killed -> violence.

>

> The woman was killed -> misogyny.

>

> The man was killed -> misandry.

Makes little sense to me. It's better to default to just "violence".


Isn't it more the challenge of the establishment rather than that she is a woman? Surely the various steps and outcomes in this would have been sadly identical if a man had done the research and published it?


This is just a guess, but I would suspect it's the fans. I remember seeing actual riots at my former school over a football (the American variety) game - the cars flipped, fires started, campus-police-in-full-riot-gear-firing-tear-gas kind. The fans probably just associate it as some brainiac professor declaring war on their culture and insulting their beloved players, and respond with hatemail and death threats.


> The fans probably just associate it as some brainiac professor declaring war on their culture and insulting their beloved players, and respond with hatemail and death threats.

With due respect to the fans... hatemail and death threats just make me think their culture is even more awful. Who's supposed to be convinced here?


You are assuming that the people who make the death threats are rational. They aren't. They are being who they are, which as you say, shows just how awful their culture is.

These are the people who would aid and abet a child molester if they thought it would help their 'team'.


> People who make money off having good athletes in universities regardless of their education levels?

You mean the type of people that pay college football coaches as much as ~$5M+/year? (http://www.businessinsider.com/the-25-highest-paid-coaches-i...) No, I cannot imagine one of these fine institutions benefiting from valuing athletics above academics. Surely college sports is all about education.


Obviously they care more about athletics, that doesn't mean they'd go as far as death threats.


In a world where highly paid professionals in education will cover up and facilitate child molestation I don't know how any of this story can be considered anything but tame and completely believable.

Collegiate athletics is one of the more corrupt systems in the USA.


Wow.... I can't believe it's that bad. While I can understand athletes performing at lower levels than average students, there are certainly basic minimums that must be met. If 8-10% are below a 3rd grade reading level as the article claims, then just imagine how many are below a high-school level. Link to more in depth article for those interested also on CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/07/us/ncaa-athletes-reading-score...


Why should an aspiring pro athlete be de-facto required / expected to be scholastically proficient? It seems like the crux of the problem is that aspiring athletes in America (except the very tip of the top prospects) need to compete in college to hone their skill set... not that I am the first person to say this of course. I think the universities are at 90% fault- they are the ones who try and maintain the image of equal treatment. They are also the ones who coddle athletes and enable their academic dishonesty. What would happen if schools started offer athletic scholarships where all the "student" does is play sports, and they don't bullshit about it? wouldn't that be better?


In F1 the drivers are as competent as some of the engineers in STEM. I can bet Lance Armstrong knows a thing or two about air resistance, tension, torsion and fatigue of parts. And I have yet to see any competent bodybuilding that doesn't know what is going on in his body on a molecular level.

You need to know a lot of stuff to be top performer. The same way you need a rock hard body to be a top scholar - your brain just works better when your body is in better shape.

But the article is talking about basic literacy. You need that to be able just to integrate into society.


Not sure about a "rock hard" body but I'll check with Stephen Hawking


Not entirely sure that he operates at the theoretical top of his intellectual capacity.

He has definitely produced great work despite his condition, but for us average joes - I can definitely state that since I started to hit the gym and began to lose weight my thinking is much faster, and my brain endurance increased a lot.


Dude you haven't seen him with his shirt off? He's ripped, brosef.


If all they do is play sports, then you couldn't really call it a scholarship, could you. The athletes would play sports and in exchange they would get.... to play sports. And the college gets all kinds of money and publicity in exchange for ... allowing the "students" to play sports. Perhaps some of the more literate of the players might stop and think for a second about the situation, and then get a crazy idea like trying to form a union, or something equally preposterous. And then the colleges might have to share some of that game revenue with the people actually playing the game! What are you trying to do, freeze over hell?!


"Why should an aspiring pro athlete be de-facto required / expected to be scholastically proficient?"

A vast majority will not succeed in their venture and these are schools. Poor career paths aside, the rest of the world expects you to be able to read and comprehend the menu in the food court. This goes doubly so if the aspiring athlete is working the till, which they often are before and after their career path.


A vast majority will not succeed in their venture

You are correct that the vast majority of collegiate athletes will not go on to play professionally. However most of them are well aware of this and actually can read and do take their academics more seriously. There are countless numbers of people who were athletes in college and who go on to success in professions other than sports.

The truly elite athletes who are very likely going to go on to play professionally also know this and may very well not have any intention of completing a degree.


I doubt those "between 8% and 10% of the school's football and basketball players" who "are reading below a third-grade level" are getting much education. At best, they are getting an empty degree.


At least we know that she is onto something. If people threaten your life over your research, you can be sure that you're in the right ballpark, so to speak.


I don't really understand the US' college sports system. But from my very flimsy outsider picture, it seems like a pretty good system.

It's flush with cash. I see complaints of how a lot of this is captured by coaches and staff, but I'm sure some flows to (for example) less popular sports too. It gives athletes a college education and an incentive to finish high school. This article is obviously about cracks in that system. Overall the effect on athletes' education is probably very positive, especially outside of the super-elite players in more popular sports.

Compare that to european amateur sports systems that have nothing to do with college: It is pretty hard for a 19 year old with a sport as the no 1 thing in their life to get a degree at all.



I think English speaking society in general struggles with the English language.

Social media is where it gets to me the most.

Personally, I think this is appalling.


The problem is the requirement for athletes to have a degree. Why can't the athletes be separated from the rest, and only those that truly want to learn, attend lectures/exams? Professors wouldn't have to pass them and the degree would not be an empty paper.




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