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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tipping point at UC Nike

''It's time for the athletic department to do a little soul searching on how they can serve the university,'' said Nathan Tublitz, a biology professor and the president of the university senate. ''The athletic department is out of control here.''

Comments (9)

Rather than reading the New York Times, you should be watching the Ducks' spring game on ESPN2. Much more interesting.

After reading the linked New York Times article, what I find surprising is that the offense with the least penalty in regard to playing on the Oregon football team, is the charge of "physical harrasment in separate cases involving women." The 2 players mentioned got suspended for one game, although the article did say, and "possibly more." Not much punishment in my book. On the other hand, I guess what a player wouldn't want to do is swear about the coach on Facebook, because that got a player dismissed, if the article got the facts right.
I think something is wrong here.

The problem at UO is the same problem all organizations have who make bargains with corporations. Phil Knight gets a playground of narcissism in which to further both his ego and his corporation's bottom line.

But public universities long ago became corporations with a focus on "grow or die" and cash flow. Tenured faculty go away, adjunct and non-tenured become the norm, universities pursue vocational "profit centers" and grad school money schemes that would make Goldman Sachs proud. College athletics can be a wonderful profit center. Problem is, those profits aren't done with the intention of shoring up academics--it's instead a monster that only grows larger and demands larger meals.

So I don't feel sorry at all for UO. Every university in Oregon *wishes to be like UO*. Ask PSU.

Pot calling kettle black! Most of these tenured Professors stopped being productive teachers long ago. And many are simply coasting along until they start collecting a fat retire,ment check.
This is nothing more than the latest spat between the academic and athletic departments at the University - with the academic folks in a snit because their pie isn't larger.

"with the academic folks in a snit because their pie isn't larger."

I'm of the opinion that the entire pie should be for academics, not a transnational corporation's marketing interests or lining the pockets of someone else. If that means ditching the sports "pie" entirely, so be it. The university might begin to return to being a--gasp--university.

It's a little bit like the Portland Development Commission up here, isn't it? The UO athletic department and especially the football program has it's own little thing going on that has its own agenda and its own separate set of stakeholders apart from the greater university. You get $2.3M cocktail napkin contracts that are completely ridiculous and there's the president of the college making a fool of himself defending the whole racket.

I find the whole thing extremely embarrassing for the UO. It's morons like this that tore down Animal House.

UC Nike?

Despite the legal wrangling, the contract appears to be standard for a school of Oregon's size and with an athletic department of considerable stature. It equals the University of Nebraska's deal with Adidas and surpasses Indiana University's eight-year, $21 million contract with Adidas.


with an athletic department of considerable stature

In its own mind, perhaps. Unsurpassed in thuggery, west of the Mississippi...

And look at what important lessons kids learn from team sports:


A provocative new study says that while athletes continue to be role models, and involvement in organized sports can shape a child's character, the influences might not always be positive.

In fact, the study by an American ethics centre says children involved in sports are more likely to cheat in school, are learning from their coaches how to best cut corners and are more open to forms of bullying as a way to motivate people.

The findings, by the Los Angeles-based Josephson Institute, fly in the face of the most widely held view of athletics: that it builds strong character, honesty and team-building skills. Those who make their living from such activities say those beliefs still hold true.

"Participation in sports will encourage positive behaviours," says Jean Côté, acting director of the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University.

But in an era of star athletes glorified over team effort, performance-enhancing drugs being used in sports such as professional baseball and bike racing (and even auto racing in the form of fuel additives) and bench-clearing brawls, the Josephson Institute thought the matter was worth further investigation.

The two-year survey of 5,275 high school athletes from across the U.S. yielded some surprising results – at least for anyone who loves sports.

Two-thirds of the athletes admitted to cheating on an exam at least once in the previous year, compared with 60 per cent in the rest of the student population.

Football players were the worst, at 72 per cent.

"For most kids, sport promotes rather than discourages cheating," the report says.

While the students surveyed overwhelmingly saw their coaches as a positive influence on their lives, they also said it was all right for the coach to teach them how to cheat and get away with it.

For instance, 43 per cent of boys thought it was okay for their coaches to teach ways to hold and push that were hard for referees to detect. Again, football was worst, at 51 per cent. Interestingly, the rates were much lower for girls, of whom only 22 per cent thought it was all right for coaches to teach illegal holds.

The study did not examine what the connection between sports and cheating might be.

Was it simply that the kids were learning to cheat from coaches bent on winning? Or were parents pushing their children to succeed at any cost? Or was it just a matter of child athletes being so busy honing their on-field skills that they felt a need to cheat to stay ahead – both academically and athletically.

Answering those questions might tell us who to blame – and the answer is probably a mix of positive answers to all three questions – but the fact remains that the sports teams we hope will help our kids become better people might not being doing the job we want.

In fact, if the study is to be believed, it might be having the opposite effect.

"There is reason to worry that the sports fields ... are becoming the training grounds for the next generation of corporate and political villains and thieves," the report says.

Côté says sports themselves aren't to blame if there are problems with athletes. Instead, he puts the blame on parents and coaches.

"Sport is not bad or good. It's the people around sport who make it bad or good – especially the adults," he says.

Côté has focused much of his research on the influence coaches and parents have on child athletes.

In one study, he found that bantam-age hockey coaches were more likely to encourage aggressive behaviour in their charges and to challenge a referee's calls when they are losing a game.

This happens, he says, even though the coaches tell the kids away from the ice to refrain from being too aggressive and to respect the referee.

"They tell the kids one thing, and act differently," he says.

Such pressures increase with the skill level of the children involved, he says. As the children reach more elite levels of sports, the pressure on them to succeed will likewise increase.

In the United States, high school sport is often an elite arena where kids compete to win university scholarships. Côté says the Josephson study should be seen in that context.

"The crowds are huge at high school games. It's part of the culture."

Côté says parents need to do more than just drop their children off at games and hope that they are learning desired lessons about fair play and teamwork. They also need to be conscious of how their own expectations might be influencing behaviour.

Character building can't be contracted out to a sports league. It's still a parent's job, and how we approach our children's sporting activities is a big part of that.

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