NCAA Worldwide?

by Tom Wilson

The other day a fella asked me if Heidelberg University, the Sorbonne in Paris, Cambridge and Oxford in England, Hebrew University in Israel or McGill University in Canada had good sports teams like those in the Big East, or ACC, or SEC, or Big Ten, or Pac Ten, or Big Eight, or Ivy League or … ad infinitum. Of course I had no idea how to answer, so a responded with my very best, “I don’t have the faintest idea.”

He went on to say he had gone to the Web site of one of those aforementioned universities to see what it said to get an idea about that particular institution of higher learning. He said he randomly chose Cambridge (http://www.cam.ac.uk). It said nothing about athletics, rather it concentrated on study opportunities, research, job opportunities, community and schools, business, university and colleges, museums collections and libraries, and such. By the way, he noted in passing the place has been in operation for the last 800 years. They must be doing some thing right.  In fact a peek at each of the Web pages of all the non-USA universities listed above yielded a similar emphasis and a consistent absence of athletics. Then he gave the Big Ten’s Ohio State a look and athletics was on a par with academics in the general Web site plus they had a unique site just for Ohio State football and other programs (http://www.osu.edu) and (http://www.ohiostatebuckeyes.com).

He went on to say at one time there was such a thing as the “scholar athlete.” From athletics he or she learned the qualities of discipline, self reliance and team work, which would hold them in good stead as he entered the world of work and career; the things they studied at the university such as medicine, law, business, history and literature. The list goes on. Athletics were never intended to be an end unto themselves, only an aide to something greater.

We have taken athletics in the university setting to be equal to what they were never intended to be equal to. Games are toys of a child. Not to get too uppity, but to quote Corinthians he said:

“When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. …”

He went on to say that our universities are no place for sports as they are currently configured. They have become the minor leagues for the professional major leagues. As such they should operate outside our universities. That’s how it’s done everywhere else in the world.

I had no answer for my pompous friend.

Do you?

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