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College Athletics and Its Role in America

The role that athletics play in the higher education system in America, whether regarded as a commercial product or a cultural development college sport (popularly known as an intercollegiate sport) have been and continue to be for many Americans one of the best-known characteristics of higher education. College athletics programs have been increasing at a faster rate than both inflation and growth. It is worth spending a few pages supporting such a statement, if for no other reason than that university mention athletics so meagerly when recounting what they do.

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The American system of education is distinctive for its commitment to athletic competition. No other country has anything approaching the leading sports enterprise that is reinforced by America’s colleges and universities. Intercollegiate sports command high prominence in the public eye and within the community (Schroeder, 2010). It is an extremely successful business, with individual campus budgets supporting a few hundred “student-athletes” realizing astral sums.

Intercollegiate athletics have played a significant role in the higher education setting in America. Athletic success seems to be meant for an institution to gain “status.” It may also produce an atmosphere among the public as a whole about the overall quality of the institution and its graduates. Astonishing is the massive dissimilarity existing between the tenacity of study between academic students and athletics. The first set tends to study to develop skills, which will support the development of institutions. The Athletics role, on the other hand, is to promote needs such as achievement and visibility of the institution (Schroeder, 2010). It acts as a promoter of a college’s name and reputation across the country, and it is also thoroughly connected with the growth of American higher education. It helps to reinforce elements such as visibility and funding of the institution besides increasing the obligation of students towards their educational institution. Therefore, the most salient characteristic seems to be that college sports teams function as representation symbols. Furthermore, it builds a strong relationship between the community and colleges in the way of enhancing the visibility of the community (Schroeder, 2010).

Concerning fans, it seems more likely to act as a form of entertainment. Every school feels the need to produce athletes who will qualify for competitions (Martin, & Christy, 2010). In this way, the sport and entertainment ideology is already developed in the minds of fans. A survey also noted that fans believe that school and college rivalries are good and entertaining because they foster school pride and loyalty. In this sense, sports also function as entertainment at American colleges as it attracts huge numbers of visitors. Furthermore, they generate revenue, serve to maintain a winning team, help generate college and regional pride as well as sustain entertainment business (Sander, 2009).

About business, college sports in America are very bureaucratically organized. Many organizations exist to control and organize sports and awards of full scholarships based on athletic ability to students (Bush, Castaneda, Hardy, & Katsinas, 2009).

Regarding employees as a partaker in the role of athletics in American colleges, it is not agreed upon, though, whether college athletic programs further the employment and retention of workers. However, athletic programs while being expensive, they still result in huge revenues that help in paying staff salaries. Often a team’s victory causes a rise in applications or alumni donations (Hodge, & Lloyd, 2009). Therefore, most universities and colleges regard them as a profitable investment. Nevertheless, this is only the case if the colleges’ sports teams participate in division 1 programs, which is the most budgeted and most competitive classification in the U.S (Gayles, 2009). According to Gayles (2009) investments in college, advancement is more advantageous if devoted to other parts.

However, a concluded statement about the role of athletics at American institutions of education is that a college’s team victory improves vision and reputation and therefore, influences the college in all aspects of the operation. Colleges seem to use mass spectator sport as a representation of the institution. It also shows that athletics is more than a mere footnote in the work of American universities. This actual importance also stands in sharp contrast to the reluctance of universities, in their official statements of purpose, to acknowledge that athletics has any significant role in what they do or value.

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Bush, V.B., Castaneda, C., Hardy, D.E., & Katsinas, S.G. (2009). What the numbers say about community colleges and athletics. New Directions for Community Colleges, 147, 5-14.

Gayles, J.G. (2009). The influence of student engagement and sport participation on college outcomes among Division I student-athletes. The Journal of Higher Education, 80(3), 315-333.

Hodge, F., & Lloyd, T. (2009). Finances and college athletics. New Directions for Institutional Research, 144, 7-18.

Martin, K.L., & Christy, K. (2010). The rise and impact of high profile spectator sports on American higher education. Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, 3, 1-15.

Sander, L. (2009). Tax expert offers ideas for monitoring big spending on college sports. Chronicle of Higher Education, 55(37).

Schroeder, P. J. (2010). A model for assessing organizational culture in intercollegiate athletic departments. Journal of Issues in Intercollegiate Athletics, 3, 98-118.

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