Higher Education in Transition: The Challenges of the New Millennium

By Joseph Losco; Brian L. Fife | Go to book overview

The best potentially have a greater incentive to turn pro earlier than they otherwise might. The rest, however, have a greater incentive to exploit fully their college opportunities. The net impact of these two effects on professionalization is ambiguous. Complicating the story, the distinction between the best and the rest frequently is not clear, even to the athletes themselves. It is the perspective that a little more work or a little luck will give someone the "big break," and it is likely that this perspective drives many athletes and contributes to increased professionalization of the collegiate game. 19 In that respect, it may be that colleges and athletes are identical in their tendency to promote professionalization.


NOTES
1
Koch ( 1971, 1986), in a series of articles, has carefully examined the intercollegiate athletics industry.
2
Penn State's facility, built in the 1960s, is the exception.
3
This approach is not without controversy. For example, an alternate definition suggested by Sperber ( 1990) is that anyone receiving a scholarship is bartering athletic services for an education and thus should be labeled a professional. This approach focuses on the athlete rather than on the college. Adopting this approach suggests that almost all college athletes are professionals, irrespective of sport or future career.
4
Whether colleges are focusing primarily on revenues and costs versus other issues is an intuitive statement of professionalization that need not exactly correspond to a careful definition of the distinction. This point will be examined in more detail in the next section.
5
One of the more curious points that arose in doing the background research for this chapter was the near complete lack of reflection on the role of athletics in a collegiate setting. This is true even in documents like the report from the Knight Foundation Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics ( 1991), which emphasizes principles like "the educational values, practices and missions of this institution determine the standards by which we conduct our intercollegiate athletics program." However, there is virtually no reflection on how the intercollegiate athletics program contributes to the "educational values, practices and missions" of the institution. The sole exception that I found was a "Statement of Principles for Intercollegiate Athletics" by the University of Notre Dame. "As a Catholic university, Notre Dame is committed to Christian values and principles as these have been expressed in our tradition throughout the University's history. These include the development of the human spirit as well as the body, the pursuit of excellence in all endeavors, the nurturing of Christian character and the call to personal integrity and acceptance of personal responsibility." However, even in this document the focus is on rules for athletes and coaches rather than a detailed examination of the role of athletics.
6
One further caveat is in order on the definition of professional. The appropriate model for the pros is extremely controversial with regard to two competing theories. One espouses the view that all professional franchises operate exclusively with a view to maximizing profits. Fort and Quirk ( 1995) in their review of the literature emphasize this view even while noting its controversy. The alternative is labeled the

-155-

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