In the discussions surrounding Brandon I feel that Olympic (aka non-revenue) sports have come under fire. The strawman argument that gets portrayed is that without Brandon’s brilliant money gathering methods, all those Olympic sports wouldn’t have their wonderful facilities. But further, the tone is more “they don’t deserve those facilities because they don’t make any money.” That pisses me off, for many reasons, which I haven’t bothered to list out. Until this came across my Twitter feed:
The University of Michigan is a public university. The open market system is not necessarily supposed to me the one and only ruler of all things at the University. Some things are expected to lose money and that’s okay because we all recognize the greater good they provide. Non-profit sports provide a greater good.
- They allow hundreds of student-athletes to attend amazing universities on partial or, in some cases, full, scholarships.
- They help create various kinds of diversity (racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, religious, hometown etc) among the campus community.
- They give young kids, girls in particular, a group of role models that don’t exist in the professional sports world.
- Each sport, in its own right, is a great sport. Each sport has wonderful tradition and people who care about it greatly, even if not every sport is “made for TV.”
- Sports are fun. All types of sports are fun. It is fun to go to soccer, baseball, softball, volleyball, field hockey games and take in high-level competitions.
- If I ever have a daughter that loves Field Hockey, I will be eternally grateful for the University of Michigan and the ability to take her to games and let her dream of playing at that high level.
Back to the money, though. The football team makes almost all the money made by individual teams, true. It also spends the most. Did you know football has 85 full ride athletes, but baseball has just 11.7 full ride scholarships that need to be split up among its 34 players? Field hockey gets 12.
While field-hockey and softball may have some of the best facilities in the Midwest, let’s not forget that football’s facilities are world-class. They are not ignored.
Finally, let’s not forget that Michigan has ALWAYS been devoted to non-revenue sports. In fact, Michigan’s performance in non-revenue sports has declined since Dave Brandon took over. I believe Brian noted that before Brandon’s tenure we were in the top 10 of the director’s cup for a decade straight.
Let's stop acting like all these other Michigan teams are lesser because they don't make the money that football does. For many reasons, football evolved into what it is today. It's popularity is great, it's a sport I love, but I can't say that it is a better sport than any other sport. Athletic competition is something we love because it represents the human competitive spirit, sportsmanship, dedication, work ethic, respect and teamwork. All of Michigan's teams do that, and many do it at an elite level. Nobody that calls themselves a Michigan fan should discount their importance.
EDIT: Okay, this was meant to be a fun, postitive thread that has clearly spiraled out of control, so I'm changing the title to what I meant the OP to convey. Are a ton of people attacking non-revenue sports? No. But there seems to be a general dismissive attitude towards them right now and that is understandable given the football price gouging that Brandon has going on. I don't know the numbers well enough to say what percent of your $500 PSD goes towards the new Field Hockey facility. I'd love to know those numbers. But I don't know those numbers and the bigger point is that nobody does, so instead of getting upset that field hockey has a great facility, let's be happy for field hockey while still demanding fiscal responsibility from the athletic department - especially in athletic administration personel and salaries.
Sorry to stir the pot so much.