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Ready for Some Football?

01 Dec Posted by in Uncategorized | 3 comments

This is a statement of considerable but not paralyzing personal ambiguity. The subject is football, as we approach the bowl season. The preliminary is essential: there is no plan for or likelihood of football at Mason in the foreseeable future, aside from the Club status already available.

But I was asked several times this fall about football — at family weekend and the alumni event alike — which reminded me of how conventional the assumption is that a successful university would either have football already or be actively planning to add it.

And my own sentiments are in one sense divided: I like to watch college football, I understand that up to a point it can be a socially useful focus for students and alumni, and I certainly understand that sometime, way down the line, it still might be an option for Mason. I’m also interested (if a bit skeptical) in reports from colleagues at ODU about the atmospheric improvements the introduction of football has wrought there this year (but also mindful that Northeastern just cancelled their program).

But the minuses are huge. For Mason, the key point is the repeated conclusion of market studies about how much a program would cost and what the impact would have to be on student fees. Very few collegiate football efforts don’t lose money, and often a lot of money. Then there’s the seasonal absurdity on top of the basics: the endless expansion of bowl games (has the NCAA never heard of final exams?) to a point of meaninglessness, the firing of coaches with years to be paid off in contracts. I can’t say — despite liking to watch — that I regret missing these aspects at all.

So I expect to remain hopelessly inconsistent: enjoying watching other people’s programs while (usually) disapproving of the programs, and quietly content that Mason misses out on this odd American higher education staple.