Big-Time Sports in American Universities

Big-Time Sports in American Universities

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For almost a century, big-time college sport has been a wildly popular but consistently problematic part of American higher education. The challenges it poses to traditional academic values have been recognized from the start, but they have grown more ominous in recent decades, as cable television has become ubiquitous, commercial opportunities have proliferated and athletic budgets have ballooned. Drawing on new research findings, this book takes a fresh look at the role of commercial sports in American universities. It shows that, rather than being the inconsequential student activity that universities often imply that it is, big-time sport has become a core function of the universities that engage in it. For this reason, the book takes this function seriously and presents evidence necessary for a constructive perspective about its value. Although big-time sport surely creates worrying conflicts in values, it also brings with it some surprising positive consequences.show more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 18 b/w illus. 13 tables
  • 1139074105
  • 9781139074100

Table of contents

Part I. Commercial Sports as a University Function: 1. Strange bedfellows; 2. Priorities; 3. The bigness of 'big time'; Part II. The Uses of Big-Time College Sports: 4. Consumer product, mass obsession; 5. Commercial enterprise; 6. Institution builder; 7. Beacon for campus culture; Part III. Reckoning: 8. Ends and means; 9. Prospects for reform; Appendices.show more

Review quote

'This is a remarkable book. Charles Clotfelter uses the tools of policy economics (tools that he wields with the best of them) to shed light on one of the most vexing issues in higher education: why do so many excellent universities devote so much money and attention to big-time intercollegiate sports? He presents surprising facts and original analyses, makes persuasive proposals for change, and delivers the package with an unusual and welcome combination of wit and rigor. This is must reading for university administrators, and flat out fun reading for all who are interested in universities or intercollegiate athletics.' Paul N. Courant, University of Michigan 'Charles Clotfelter has provided a valuable and remarkably well-researched assessment of the role of 'big-time' college athletics in American higher education. Bringing to bear his considerable experience in economic and social policy, he has provided an unusually well-balanced analysis of the pros and cons of including this form of commercial entertainment as a university mission, thereby resulting in a book that is an important and fascinating addition to this highly controversial subject.' James J. Duderstadt, President Emeritus, University of Michigan 'A fascinating, insightful discussion of the arms race that is big-time intercollegiate athletics. Clotfelter clarifies how this parallel universe in large universities exists essentially independent of faculty or administrative control, being instead the creature of powerful self-perpetuating groups of 'boosters'. The convincing, novel demonstration of the role of tax subsidies in supporting these operations should raise every reader's blood pressure.' Daniel S. Hamermesh, University of Texas, Austin 'This book offers an excellent discussion of the role of big-time athletics on university campuses today. Instead of either lambasting varsity athletics across the board or celebrating them uncritically, Clotfelter's persuasive data, thoughtful analysis, and balanced treatment make a strong case for acknowledging athletics as an integral part of life on many campuses and dealing straightforwardly with both the problems and the benefits this entails.' Nannerl O. Keohane, Princeton University, and Former President, Duke University 'With his book Big-Time Sports in American Universities, Charles Clotfelter has done those of us who care about balancing the mission of higher education institutions with the impact of high-level college athletics an enormous favor. Providing great insights and careful analysis, Dr Clotfelter reveals both the rationale behind 'big-time' sports programs at American universities and the consequences - good and ill - that follow. Hopefully, this fresh look at a decades-old (and uniquely American) issue will encourage and guide the ongoing reform efforts aimed at finding the right balance in the costs and benefits of big-time college sports.' William Kirwan, Chancellor, University System of Maryland 'Charles Clotfelter offers an original, informative perspective on a question that has confounded scholars of sports: why are American universities uniquely devoted to providing big-time sports entertainment? This book is crammed with new facts and analysis about intercollegiate sports, and it offers fresh insights into why college sports programs sometimes are out of control even in elite universities.' Roger Noll, Stanford University 'Finally an honest, balanced, sober, well-informed, and highly intelligent analysis of the nature, role, and impact of big-time athletics on American higher education has arrived. Clotfelter's new book, which judiciously deploys an impressive variety of data sources together with expert and original analysis, should be required reading by anyone with a genuine interest in the future of American higher education and the role and impact of big-time sports in the academy.' Harold S. Shapiro, President Emeritus, Princeton Universityshow more

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