Buchler: Stop focusing on football

October 10, 2018

The telltale signs of fall normally remain the same: the weather cools, the leaves begin to fall and football reigns supreme once more.


I welcome this yearly reprieve from the sweltering days of August and eagerly await the return of sweater weather.


But, while fall may be my favorite season, I can’t stand college football season.


My disdain for the sport stems not from the game itself but from the glorification it receives from those wholly invested in it.


For some reason, people love to watch nonprofessional players battle it out on the gridiron and will spend a lot of money to do so, even if they are not current students or alumni of that school.


I don’t understand the obsession and probably never will. But, other people’s infatuation translates to enormous amounts of money in the world of college football.


According to the Toledo Blade, UT head coach Jason Candle currently nets a base salary of $450,000 and receives an additional $650,000 in “marketing compensation.” His base salary will increase in increments of $25,000 until his contract expires at the end of 2023.


Candle’s contract also states that he can make up to an additional $50,000 a year based on team wins, with thousands of dollars in further bonuses available for MAC championship wins and appearances, bowl game participation, appearances in the college football playoffs, academic achievement by players and being named “Coach of the Year” at the MAC, regional or national levels.


His yearly earnings nearly double those of UT president Sharon Gaber, who earns a salary of $510,000 with possible bonuses of up to $153,000, according to the Blade.


Other administrators, professors and faculty members make far less.


I certainly don’t fault Candle for this disparity; his salary is consistent with head coaches of similarly sized programs.


At larger schools, head coaches can command an even greater price tag.


Urban Meyer of Ohio State University and Jim Harbaugh of the University of Michigan both rank in the top three of football head coaching salaries with annual compensation packages totaling over $7 million, according to USA Today.


I recognize that football generates significant revenue for colleges and universities across the country and supporters want to funnel that money back into the program, but these coaches work for educational institutions.


Universities don’t even directly pay their greatest asset: the players.


How can we justify allocating university funds to pay astronomical salaries for athletics when other faculty members’ salaries pale in comparison? Professors, for example, surely impact a greater number of students than the football program does.


It speaks to a greater societal issue that universities so eagerly sign off on mass amounts of money to bolster their football programs: They pay for football because fans will pay for football.


This trend crops up in almost all male-dominated professional sports, where revenue allows teams to sign coaches and players to sizable contracts.


While I take issue with professional athletes and coaches receiving more per game than most of us make in a year, sports leagues are designed to be run as businesses.


College athletics should not be handled the same way.


Universities are not meant to function as football programs that happen to award college degrees.


But, as long as fans continue to turn out in droves on game day, the system will not change.


Currently, entertainment trumps education; people need to take a closer look at their choices and decide if that is the reality they wish to live in.


In the midst of larger social issues, this may not seem to be pertinent.


However, continuing to glorify sports on such a grand scale has looming implications.


I’m not saying people have to shun athletics, but something has to give.


Kristen Buchler is a third-year English major.


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