Thursday, March 17, 2005

Defending Society Sports

Every school in America shows its priorities when it determines what type of athletics program it will create. Although most colleges and universities compete with other schools in the NCAA or other athletic organizations, Bob Jones University has not had an intercollegiate sports team since 1933. According to Standing Without Apology, Dr. Bob Sr. stood up in chapel one day and announced, "I'm sorry boys and girls, we're not going to have any more football. . . We've love it too much. I love it too much. We can't do our work and run around the country playing football. That is not what God called this school down here to do!" So more than seventy years later, when college sports programs seem to be given more attention and money than ever before, let's examine whether or not the evangelist-turned-educator made a wise decision. Consider the results of a recently released study by The University of Central Florida that disclosed the graduation rates of basketball players at this year's first division schools in the NCAA tournament. There was The University of Texas at El Paso at 38%, Oklahoma Sate at 42%, University of Kentucky at 46% and Eastern Kentucky also at 42%. Congratulations are in order for the University of Florida team for breaking the half-way mark with 55%. In contrast, the athletic program at Bob Jones University has a completely approach to sports. The BJU website explains that "though the University does not participate in intercollegiate athletics, it sponsors, through the societies, a well-integrated program of intramural athletic competition." This out-of-step idea becomes downright shocking and extreme when it proclaims that "Because this organizational setup calls for 25 men's teams and 25 women's teams for each sport, an exceptionally high percentage of student participation is possible." Participation? Isn't college athetics in the twenty-first century reserved for the physically elite and intellectually challenged? This may be the case at most colleges. But BJU has never been like other colleges, and its claim of being "The Opportunity Place" is more than just an advertising slogan. It is a manifestation of priorities and values that are completely foreign at the post-modern academic institutions in America today.

I'm just saying this so you'll have something to get angry about today.
It appears as if BJU has some regard for an athletic program-- to the tune of seven million dollars for a new gym. [paragraph break]
If your only case for the correctness of BJU’s decision to not engage in intercollegiate sports is that the graduation rates are low for basketball players at secular universities, that’s just not a concise enough comparison. Obviously, a state university is going to have different priorities than BJU. To truly show that intercollegiate sports would change the school's priorities and lower values, how about finding out the graduation rate of athletes at conservative Christian colleges that participate in intercollegiate sports? Is it a detriment to those schools’ “priorities and values”? [paragraph break]
Also, it’s not completely true that BJU doesn’t take part in any intercollegiate sports as evidenced by the Furman/BJU game for Turkey bowl. Faculty and administration considered it a great opportunity for Furman students and faculty to see that BJU wasn’t the impenetrable fortress that it appears to be. [paragraph break]
Honestly, I agree with the spirit of what you are saying, but an intercollegiate athletic program is not inherently evil. It would not be the “money maker” that it is for state universities, but there’s a possibility it would improve BJU’s image in the Christian and local community.
Side Note: you know I'm not an athlete, but at least I didn't go to the gym and just use the sauna. There were so many girls that would sit there for hours. Hey, you're not going to lose 50 pounds before tonight's artist series.
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