Is College Football A Cash Cow Or A White Elephant?

FRONT ROYAL, VA — Fifty years ago, Father Ted Hesburgh, President of Notre Dame, launched a campaign to make the school measure up to “Ivy League” academic standards.

Alas, students did not jump for joy. They did not appreciate the underlying notion that they were being educated at a Catholic intellectual backwater in need of a makeover.

A campus folk group called the Mountain Williams (the superlative of “Hillbillies”) entertained the annual folk festival with a song written for the occasion:

Now they’re trying to rule out all football,
Make the field into a study hall,
But they’re gonna have to make a brand-new cheer:
Rah Rah for “Academic Excellence,” we got “Academic Excellence,”
We got “Academic Excellence” round here.

I was the banjo player.

Little did we know how prophetic we were. Notre Dame has just announced a $400 million project to expand the football stadium, create thousands of premium seats for high-dollar donors, and replace the natural grass field with artificial turf.

The stadium will be connected on three sides with new buildings that are “academic” on the outside with skyboxes on the side that faces the playing field.

Yes, we Mountain Williams were prophets; but we had it backwards: Now it’s “Rah Rah for Irish Football – and cash.”

But that’s really kind of crass, isn’t it?

Well yes, it is. Philosopher Ralph McInerny, one of the most respected faculty members in Notre Dame’s history, called this penchant for prestige a “vulgar lust.”

That stings. So Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s current president – most famous for his slavishly fawning embrace of Barack Obama on campus four years ago – is selling this latest version of the Tower of Babel as a “bold” vision that’s about as academic as Obama’s honorary law degree.

“Not So Fast!”

Enter Father Wilson Miscamble, C.S.C., former chairman of Notre Dame’s history department and author of For Notre Dame: Battling for the Heart and Soul of a University (254 pages, St. Augustine’s Press, 2013). Fr. Miscamble is fully engaged in the campus conversation addressing Notre Dame’s future.

“This Project must be opposed forcefully,” he writes in the Irish Rover, a campus newspaper. “It damages the true mission of the university. It is a grossly wasteful expenditure of money that reveals in telling fashion the misplaced priorities of the Jenkins administration. Furthermore, the building mania it manifests gives the illusion of movement and progress at the university while distracting from Notre Dame’s essential mission.”

That mission is “Catholic,” not “Cash.”

And the university’s talking points? Father Miscamble is not impressed:

“Notre Dame’s Director of Athletics, Jack Swarbrick, has argued that the three enormous buildings bolted on to the football stadium offer evidence of the ‘integration of athletics into the academic mission of the university.’”

“Academic”? Father Miscamble disagrees:

“What the Project instead reveals is the subjection of the academic mission of the university to the needs of the all-powerful axis of athletics and development. It represents a definite retreat from the Hesburgh vision of keeping our fabled football program in an important but supportive role at the university. It clearly demonstrates that the tail of the athletics juggernaut wags the supine dog of the academic enterprise of the university.”

[On a personal note, this writer's grandfather and his twin brother, both members of Notre Dame's Lay Board of Trustees early in the twentieth century, led the fundraising campaign for the original building of the stadium. This writer's father, a professor of law at the time, was head of the Athletic Committee, on which Knute Rockne also served. Rockne, a chemistry professor, also coached football on the side. Back then, football was indeed "important but supportive."]

Father Miscamble then goes for the jugular – which, at Notre Dame these days, means “money”:

“Eliminate the luxury seating, and there is no way that Notre Dame would pursue such an ill-considered scheme.”

Father Jenkins is undoubtedly undaunted. After all, Obama’s entourage had scarcely departed four years ago when the university got a $30 million government grant for something-or-other, ironically coming from federal “Stimulus” funds.

Apparently, Obama’s visit had helped Notre Dame reach what the South Bend Tribune called a fundraising “milestone.”

Football’s Twilight Hours

The word spread quickly among coaches, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. Top athletes nationwide get easy academic credit for two-week online “courses” available from obscure but accredited colleges like Western Oklahoma State Community College.

Such bogus courses plague high-end programs too. At the University of North Carolina, a “final paper” comprising a single paragraph written with faulty grammar at the middle-school level was all that was required for one athlete to garner three college credits at the prestigious university.

At least he went to one class. UNC Chancellor Carol Folt admits that some 200 African and Afro-American Studies courses in recent years, heavily “attended” by athletes, were either barely taught, or not taught at all.

Northwestern University has a different problem. Left-wing university administrators there are aghast because their “amateur” athletes want to unionize and affiliate with the United Steelworkers.

Suggested slogan: “From the Steelworkers to the Steelers.”

Admittedly, today’s fiercely competitive admissions departments are forced to emphasize the college “experience”; education just doesn’t seem to cut it any more.

However, enjoying the “experience” can get out of hand. At both Notre Dame and Florida, two top football players in recent years have been accused of sexual assault (both have denied the charges).

The University of Georgia seems to acknowledge the problem. According to CBS News in Atlanta, the Bulldogs’ athletic guidelines suggest that players avoid “orgies” as well as noticeable sexual “passion marks” on their bodies.

Notre Dame wants football to be an even more integral part of the college “experience.” Is that prudent?

It might not be. Some other considerations are quite daunting.

Outstanding student college debt in America now totals over a trillion dollars, even as graduates find jobs increasingly scarce, and employers are increasingly dismayed at the lack of serious preparation they find in many recent graduates.

That “experience” is decidedly uninspiring.

The charade of “student-athletes” should be confronted head-on.

Perhaps the NCAA should face reality and tell colleges to hire football players like they hire other staff. Let them unionize, pay them, and stop pretending they’re going to class.

Such honesty might be refreshing, but honesty might not be enough. College football’s future prospects are far from guaranteed.

Legal experts tell the Rubble that college football wouldn’t last five years beyond the day that the first huge jury verdict in a concussion lawsuit impoverishes a typical public high school district. “Insurance companies won’t even bother to raise their rates,” they say, “they’ll take a hike. And those free feeder programs at thousands of the nation’s high schools that the college football system relies on will dry up.”

Legal issues regarding concussions have already cost the NFL over a billion dollars. How many school districts can afford that kind of money?

The Bottom Line, Or the End of the Line?

Father Miscamble writes that Notre Dame could build all the academic buildings included in the proposed Project for a tenth of the cost – about $40 million. But Notre Dame’s football program is a cash cow, and cash is a very important ingredient in the Notre Dame “experience” recipe.

The $30 million windfall after Obama’s visit was not its only financial “milestone.” Tuition in 2014 is now 28 times what it cost in 1964 – and for many students, that burden will be a lifelong millstone.

Those graduates won’t be skybox material.

In fact, Notre Dame’s new boondoggle might turn out to be a millstone too. If football programs fade as jury awards rise, that field might become a study hall after all – the most expensive one ever built.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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Bloomberg Just Declared War On The NRA

Michael Bloomberg recently announced he will spend $50 million of his own money to stop the flow of “illegal guns.”

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

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Sharpton’s Easter Message: Celebrate Obama’s Resurrection

Al Sharpton, the incredible shrinking man, has not only lost the majority of his weight in recent years; he has also shed any credibility he had left. For a man whose rise to prominence as a race hustler was on the back of a lying teenager named Tawana Brawley, he obviously had very little to begin with.

Nevertheless, he still has the audacity to refer to himself as a “reverend” despite the fact that the only gospel he preaches consists of White House talking points. That fact was made nauseatingly clear in a recent radio interview on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.

As Easter approaches, most Christian churches will share the faith-affirming story of Jesus’ resurrection after dying on a cross for our sins. Sharpton, however, will be sharing a decidedly different spin on that core tenet of Christianity.

“I think the message is,” he said, “that no matter what the world may do to unfairly, no matter how you’re crucified, nailed to the cross at home, or in your personal relationships, or on the job, that you can rise if you don’t lose yourself during the hard times and the challenges.”

The “reverend” not only discounted Christ’s sacrifice by suggesting we can all experience something akin to his suffering; he also found a way to turn the holy day into political fodder.

Sharpton was apparently able to find a parallel between Jesus and Obama as he saw the latter “at our convention last Friday where all he took he’s been able to rise politically again.”

In an apparent attempt to play down his blasphemy, he said, “I’m not comparing him to Jesus,” before adding “I am saying that to every crucifixion there is a resurrection for those who believe.”

While Christ’s resurrection ushered in a new covenant between God and His children, Obama’s “resurrection” is defined by approval ratings in the low 40 percent range and an unpopular healthcare law forced onto a disillusioned American public. The parallels, in Sharpton’s mind at least, are striking.

For believers in the true meaning of Easter, on the other hand, this is just further proof that Sharpton has become a very rich man by bastardizing religion in the pursuit of his own goals.

This was unfortunately not the first time a political hack has tried to compare Obama to Christ. According to the dogma of radical leftism, Obama is as close to a savior as America has ever produced.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Al Sharpton

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

200 Students Slaughtered On The Way To Exams… Guess Who Did It?

At least 200 students were recently slaughtered on their way to school by a group of Muslim militants known as Boko Haram. Boko Haram, which translates to “Western Education is Forbidden,” seeks to build an Islamist state in north-east Nigeria.

There have been numerous attacks on civilians during Boko Haram’s insurgency. Boko Haram was founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2002 to prevent the “Westernization” of Nigeria. One of the ways it has done so is to cowardly target unarmed students on different occasions.

The Boko Haram insurgents made sure that they were well-equipped against the students and other villagers, arriving in two armored personnel carriers and seven double cabin pickups.

Senator Zannah Ahmed, a local Nigerian leader, stated the following:

“It is a must for me to speak since people’s lives are involved and they are my people. All these are happening in my constituency and it will be wrong to keep quiet. I feel so much pained and would have not love to speak (sic) but definitely my conscience will not let me do that.”

Boko Haram also committed another atrocity against students, this time enslaving at least 200 schoolgirls. In the past, when Boko Haram has captured girls, they have often gone on to become cooks and sex slaves for the militants. Instead of the better life for themselves they sought through schooling, these girls are now more likely to be sex slaves rather than proper housewives, and cooks rather than professionals.

Boko Haram is committing travesties in the name of Allah. Through numerous brutal attacks on civilians, they seek to impose through force their warped vision of a good society. Indeed, their attacks on students are cowardly abominations that should not go unchallenged. The extremely liberal Soros-funded site MoveOn.org actually made a petition asking that Boko Haram not be designated a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. Department of State. Thankfully, the Department of State ignored such lunacy and went ahead with the designation.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Marine Kicked Out Of Pizza Hut. The Reason Why Will Make Your Blood Boil

According to a Facebook post by a user calling himself Rick Libertas Semper, a popular pizza chain refused to serve him because he was wearing four patches signifying his service as a U.S. Marine. According to his profile, he lives in Green Bay, Wis.

“I decided to go to Pizza Hut for their lunch buffet after work and was approached by the manager who came to tell me that for the safety of the patrons and staff they do not allow people in the restaurant wearing gang colors,” he wrote.

Of course, according to his account, the only ‘gang’ his colors represent is the Marine Corps.

“I was wearing my black leather jacket that has 4 patches and the back of the jacket is embroidered,” he recalled. “One patch says USMC, the other patch says Marine Combat Veteran, the 3rd patch is the unit patch for 3rd Marines 3rd Batallion and there is a patch of the US flag on it.”

The back of his jacket, he explained, is covered by an embroidered USMC emblem.

“I pointed out that these are not gang colors but represent one of the branches of our military,” he wrote, explaining he is a veteran and has “earned the right to wear them.”

The manager, however, reportedly “said he can’t be expected to know” the difference between patches “so they just don’t allow any of them in the restaurant.”

The veteran recounted his experience as evidence that the “world is full of idiots,” though he recognized the incident was isolated and doesn’t necessarily represent the views of all Pizza Hut franchises.

In a response to his initial post, he wrote that he believes it was just a case of a “young manager trying to look like he was in control.”

Nevertheless, reports of companies treating veterans with disrespect continue to surface across the nation. Making matters worse, our government is not only shrinking our active military ranks; it is providing fewer and fewer resources for those returning with physical and mental needs.

Photo Credit: Facebook/Marine Corps Tattoos

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism - Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom