Friday, September 16, 2016

Thus spake the market!

Think about this: Most kids and adults like to be entertained.  Most kids and adults alike do not care to invest time and energy into reading and thinking.  Are those fair enough generalizations?

Thus, if we had money to spend along with the time, then most of us would shell out our time and money on entertainment.  And what better entertainment than sports, right?

If we leave everything to the market, then that is the kind of an outcome we can expect.  Which is also what we see increasingly happening in higher education, where students spend their time and money.  And with plenty of help from taxpayers, sports rule.  The flashier and more exciting the sport is, the more is the money spent on it.

Which is why it is no surprise that this op-ed (in the NY Times!!!) author has taken it to the logical extreme: He (of course it is always a "he" when it comes to such nutcases!) says it is high time universities offered majors in football and basketball and ...: He cites how the market has already spoken in favor of this:
Last weekend, nearly 157,000 people packed Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee to see the University of Tennessee battle Virginia Tech, the largest crowd ever to turn out for a football game, college or professional.
With popularity comes money, and lots of it. In April, the N.C.A.A. signed a deal with CBS and Turner Broadcasting for an eight-year, $8.8 billion extension of their March Madness basketball TV contract to 2032, while the college football bowl series brings in more than $500 million annually.
Exactly.  When was the last time a philosophy match brought in such money?

The author offers more:
Athletic budgets have swelled as a result. Texas A&M is on the verge of becoming the first campus to bring in more than $200 million a year from athletics. The University of Iowa just announced a 10-year, $45 million contract extension for its football coach. In 40 states the highest paid public employee is a college coach.
Oh, I get it now; the high salaries of coaches at colleges is to be lauded as the market speaking loudly.  What was I thinking!
 The $6.9 million annual salary of Nick Saban, the head football coach at the University of Alabama, is equal to the combined average salary for nearly 100 assistant professors at the school, according to the most recent data available.
Get rid of those faculty in geography and pay the football coach some more, I say.

Oh, wait, except that coaches earning gazillions, and the NCAA being an awesome cash machine, are not the results of the free market.  Click here, and in the table sort it out by the final column on "% Subsidy" if you want to puke all over the screen!

And, oh, while the coaches get paid gazillions, the worker-bees, also known as students, do not get paid.  Surely that is how the market works.  It does not?
It's wrong that taxpayers are forced to subsidize professional sports teams via stadium deals and the like. It's equally wrong that taxpayers and students see their bills jacked up to fund college sports teams, no matter how enjoyable the spectacle. I suspect that if and when the actual payouts to athletic departments for sports programs become better known, this worm will turn.
Nope, in this entertainment obsessed world, no worm will turn anywhere.  Who cares if 30-year old Johnny can't read and lives in mom's basement as long as he gets screens full of entertainment!


Ramesh said...

This is a uniquely American disease - professional sports masquerading as amateur and being subsidised by the tax payer . For some reason this has got interwoven with colleges.

It is obvious to the outside world that this is not right. But, as with guns, we don't seem to be on the same planet.

Anne in Salem said...

There are so many sides to consider.

The big sports programs bring in so much money that other, non-lucrative sports use for their existence. Without football, how much field hockey would there be or rowing or softball? Where would those athletes be?

Those horrible, expensive, tax-evading stadia provide jobs during construction and to run. And think of all the people to be hired (accountants, HR, recruiters, marketing, etc.) to manage everything necessary to run a $200,000,000 enterprise.

Do we know what Saban does with his $6.9M? Does he fund many charities? Does he employ a big household staff? Does he help former players after they graduate but can't get jobs? 6.9M is an obscene amount of money to earn, but I have less gripe if he does something good with it.

Lest you think I agree with all this silliness, I do not necessarily agree or disagree. I see enough sides to see a rainbow rather than black and white.

I hate the tax-subsidies for all stadia, whether college or pro. If a business can't afford its facilities, and a university or sports team is as much a business as an insurance or clothing business is, it should take out a loan scale back the plan or not build it in the first place.

What about the student athlete? Do they benefit from this program? Schools with the highest graduation rates often have the smallest athletic budgets and get the least air time so receive less revenue stream. Some people will say that, without sports and a scholarship to play, Johnny couldn't afford to go to college, so this is his opportunity. Perhaps. And perhaps he should stay within his means and attend a less expensive school or perhaps a trade school. A role with a major college sports team will provide many students with opportunities they would never have otherwise, and that may be good.

Sriram Khé said...

Hey Anne, by your logic, we might as well pay people to dig ditches and then to fill them back. It will pay for a whole bunch of people, who will then go on to buy stuff with a whole bunch of multiplier effects ;)
Ok, I will stop being snarky here ;)
1. You are overlooking "opportunity costs"
2. You are completely overlooking the fact that we are talking about misuse and abuse of taxpayer money and money from students who are getting into more and more debt. Your entire post is almost like "other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, ..." crap, the snarky inner me won't go away ;)

Yep, guns and college football. Highly illogical and a terrible waste. But, these two are practically like religion to most people. reason and logic do not work against religious faith :(

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