In the recent past, Americans have been involved in various discussions over college football. Various activities surround college football. Most of these activities generate heated debates among fans and other stakeholders. Some of these activities include the need to pay players, the recruitment process, and the nature of the competition among competing colleges. College football is one of the most famous sports in the United States of America. Most colleges if not all are involved in college football. Most colleges have dedicated many resources to this sport since many people in America love it. College football plays a significant role in developing talent for the professional teams in the national football league. I most cases, students who excel in college football end up playing in the professional league at the national championships. As a result, college football has been given top priority among many colleges in the United States. However, in the recent past many controversies have surrounded college football. In order to have quality players in their teams, coaches and colleges management are often involved in the recruitment process. This recruitment process is aimed at getting the best players who will guarantee the success of their teams. Most of the players targeted are high school students who are about to join college. The nature of the recruitment process is one of the aspects which have resulted in a heated debate among many concerned parties in college football. This debate is caused by the fact that it has become a norm for many colleges to give rewards to talented high school players to join their colleges. Some of these rewards include parties, paid holidays, and other gifts that are meant to influence the students into signing for their institutions. This raises a serious question which will be analyzed in this paper. Is it ethically and morally acceptable to give talented students rewards in the form of gifts and parties in order to attract them to particular colleges?
Over the recent past, there has been increasing concerns on how the colleges recruit players for their teams. One of the arguments is that giving high school students gifts and other incentives to sign for college football teams is unethical. It is a norm today for most colleges to take their new recruits in lucrative trips and holidays as part of their strategies to sign these players. There have been various scandals and controversies facing college football management in terms of recruiting and reward of players. In the recent past, many players have been admitted being lured into colleges by illegal means and sometimes unethical or immoral acts. For instance, one of the famous cases where such behavior was noticed was the University of Colorado where players were lured by promises of orgies and alcohol. Most of the youngsters were attracted by the idea of sexual freedom that some colleges promoted in order to agree to join certain colleges.
The cases in which students were lured to a certain college with the help of wild parties with alcohol and sex have contributed to augmentation of the controversies in college football. Easterbrook discusses these issues in depth by analyzing the impact of these activities in the American society in general. By giving examples of some of the recent controversies in college football, the author is able to persuade the readers that these strategies are unethical and have a negative impact on the society. For instance in the wake of the University of Colorado controversy, when the management was accused of using the mirage of sex and alcohol as bait to recruit players, this argument becomes logical and relevant for many readers because they have a real-life experience to relate to.
Many other colleges have been accused of using illegal and unethical means in recruiting the players to various teams. Most of the coaches have devised new mechanisms that they use to lure young boys and girls into their teams. Due to the pride, fame, and money that come with college football, every coach and school wants to get the best players for their teams. However, what astonishes many people is the nature of the recruitment process. Easterbrook uses examples from various successful college teams to show how much the problems have expanded in college teams. In this case, Easterbrook (135) compares and contrasts what was happening some decades ago where college recruitment was based on merits and students had to choose colleges based on the coaching staff and facilities that the school has built for the sport.Thus, they purposefully stress entertainment and leave out education in luring students to college. However, Easterbrook’s persuasive strategies are weakened by the fact that the author demonizes the recruitment strategies too much, and he does not address opposing views. He uses slanted language in order to manipulate the readers in agreeing with him. For example, as Easterbrook argues, sports management recruitment practices promise students a dream life by declaring “come here and it will be nothing but football and parties” (129). However, this seems like a biased statement, since it is hardly believable that any college would go this far.
Liner and Doug have also analyzed how the government is responding to these activities. These actions call for rapid changes in college football programs. Moreover, these actions have attracted the attention of the federal government, and the government is thinking of introducing new rules and regulations to govern college football (Liner and Doug 113). The involvement of the federal government in creating laws and regulations for college football means that there are great risks to the society if the problem is left unattended. The argument’s strength is that is successfully articulates the need to have an ethical and moral college sports programs, based on merits and freewill of the players to choose their teams without using strategies that may corrupt the society.
Supporters of college football rank it as part of the “college experience”, and explain that parties and other non-educational manifestations are part of the ‘college package’ (Clotfelter 53). As Clotfelter explains, “from pranks and panty raids to beer pong and fraternity parties, the stereotypical activities of undergraduate life-sometimes harmless, sometimes alcohol related, but always ‘nonacademic’ –make up an important component of what college education is for many undergraduate students” (153). As the author explains, the entertainment function is part of a global ‘college experience’ for which some universities are renowned. However, while infamous, this kind of reputation is sustained by universities in order to attract students, particularly football players who are admired and have easy access to all forms of entertainment. The media also illustrates college life in positive terms, therefore representing further approval at the level of the society, for the big parties, filled with alcohol and promising sexual fulfillment. Like Clotfelter, the media seems to present big partying as one important aspect of college life, with football players being the most advantaged during these parties, as local ‘stars’ ,
A third view is that it is not benefits themselves that are harmful, but the nature of these benefits. Oriard tries to demonstrate that there are some strategies which can be used by college football management in ensuring that the professional standards are maintained in all the colleges. One be to pay college students for their efforts in participating in college football. As a result, most there will be no need for universities and colleges to arrange parties in order to attract young people. By formalizing payments for the students, colleges will be able to focus on clean and ethical contracts with the students, while still providing them with rewards for their efforts. This also allows universities to lure students by promising them greater amounts of money, according to their possibilities and to the students’ talents, and doing so in an ethical manner.
Most of the schools receive a lot of funding for sports. Besides, college football attracts huge funding from private companies that wish to promote their products and services using college football programs (Oriard 78). Therefore, there is a need to use these funds in an ethical manner that will enhance the lives of students and their families. There is also a need for all colleges to focus on their primary role of providing quality education to all students. There is no need for colleges to compromise to quality of education they offer for college football.
Oriard argues that, by rewarding students with money instead of attracting them unofficially with parties and alcohol, sports managers are still able to attract the most talented students by offering them large amounts of money, but the method is less immoral and more appropriate (117). He argues that morality should not be abandoned in the search for the best football players, regardless of how tough the competition among colleges may be and coaches and other stakeholders should put ethical behavior above anything else. However, Oriard’s argument is flawed because he fails give any example or authoritative source for his argument, and only bases this solution on his own thinking. Indeed, Hoffmann Falk and Manning give examples of students being payed to play. They explain that, “the so-called student players were in fact professionals paid and supported by wealthy alumni” (48). This shows that unofficially, this practice is already established in American colleges, but this is not necessary a positive aspect, particularly if it is not regulated.
Therefore, as this paper shows, while it seems obvious that the college recruitment practices which offer non-educational benefits to students who play football for joining colleges with big sports programs are immoral, not all critics have this opinion, and students certainly believe that this is not so. Alcohol and sexual freedom seem a very immoral reward for joining a certain college. However, others argue that entertainment of this kind is part of the complete college experience that will create beautiful memories for the adults as a time with little responsibility and much freedom. Similarly to sports, they argue, this kind of reward is part of the college culture. A third position in this respect is that it is not benefits in general, that makes current recruitment strategies immoral, but rather, the nature of the rewards. The critics who support this strategy claim that this is equally effective as a strategies, and less immoral, because it does not promote illicit activities. One has to ask however, whether schools paying students to attract them, is similar to offering scholarships or rather, it will lead to a further commercialization of education and college sports, which is a present-day trend.
Clotfelter, Charles. Big-Time Sports in American Universities. 2011. New York: Cambridge university Press.
Easterbrook, Gregg. “The King of Sports: Football’s Impact on America”. 2013. Print.
Hoffman, Frank, Falk, Gerhard and Manning, Martin. “Football and American Identity. Bighamton, NY: The Haworth Press. 2005. Print.
Liner, Mike and Doug Hensley. It’s Not All Black and White: From Junior High to the Sugar Bowl, an Inside Look at Football through the Eyes of an Official. New York: Skyhorse Pub. 2009. Print.
Oriard, Michael. Bowled Over: Big-Time College Football from the Sixties to the Bcs Era. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 2009. Print.