Bobcat by choice. Athlete by right.

Sports are as imperative to the college institution as music and art programs, if not in some regards, more so. It is no surprise that collegiate sports are increasing in both financial focus and student interest. Most universities operate as businesses and will make decisions that directly influence revenue. Similarly, we as students have made the decision to spend incredible sums of money on tuition and school expenses in hopes of increasing future income with a degree. Collegiate sports, particularly football, can be major sources of revenue in a university’s business scheme and investments like the remodeling of the Bobcat Stadium are becoming more necessary than desired. These investments are bringing about concerns that too much focus is being placed on collegiate sports and some are calling to reverse the trend. However, this is a very narrow perspective, as the athletics department encompasses a broad spectrum of value.

In addition to a growing student population, the success of the MSU football team has prompted structural changes to the university’s stadium. The south end zone was recently reconstructed, increasing the stadium’s capacity and allowing for a greater volume of ticket sales and other earnings, which would pay into the reconstruction project. An increase in capacity and, again, the success of the football team has led to attendances exceeding 21,000 on multiple occasions.

Collegiate sports have much more to offer a university than ticket sales. As spectators and fans of MSU Athletics, students, alumni, and the community as a whole are provided the opportunity to build, maintain and strengthen ties with the university. These ties are what motivate individuals like the late Bill Wurst, an alumnus who recently left $4 million to the university, to keep MSU in mind.

The value of the athletics department is immeasurable. That value extends also into education, an area of focus Bobcat Athletics takes seriously. In recent years, the MSU Athletics teams have broken records in academics by maintaining a collective grade point average over 3.0 for 27 consecutive semesters. This demonstrates both the department’s attitude toward academics and its overall success in academic achievement. Moreover, some students who otherwise could never go to school are provided that opportunity through athletic scholarships. The decision to distribute scholarships is not taken lightly, as student athletes maintain an 85 percent graduation success rate as opposed to the overall university’s roughly 49 percent at MSU. Athletics are also motivating factors in student enrollment and retention.

Additionally, the athletics department is a promotion of student health. A key contributor to rising obesity rates is a lack of physical inactivity. Advocating involvement in collegiate sports could help reduce the incidence of obesity in the college-aged populace, which has tripled in the United States from 1991-2004. In a society where obesity has been labeled an epidemic, I believe the wrong course of action would be to stray from an athletic mindset.
College sports are neither a waste of time nor a waste of money. Yes, on the surface, sports may seem like just another form of entertainment. The same can be said about music and arts. Yet, while some consider sports non-contributable to society based on that idea, there is no consideration of music and arts to be without value. While it is true that many student athletes do not become professionals, student musicians, artists, photographers, scientists and so on, do not find careers on a professional level concordant with their collegiate activities either. Yet there is very little consideration of music and arts to be wastes. Perhaps this double-standard can be attributed to the success of collegiate sports. We do not see tens of thousands in the attendance of an orchestral performance after all. Nevertheless, it is wrong to degrade a collegiate organization based on its success, or lack thereof. Furthermore, it is wrong to want to deprive any student of the opportunity for a future in their area of interest based on the favorability of the odds presented to them. Can a Bobcat athlete become a professional? We would never know if they were not given the chance. Should one of my peers decide to place less focus on sciences or performing arts to better their athletic abilities and strengthen the team that directly aids my university, I am in full support. In pursuit of a profession, no one should be denied support.