The Toilet Bowl

Don’t get me wrong. I sit glued to the TV during the end-of-the-year orgy known as the Bowl Season. I have yet to learn how to watch more than one game at a time, however, try as I might. But, let’s get serious: 35 bowl games in about two weeks is enough to make the head spin and the stomach turn over even if one weren’t gorging himself on chips and warm beer. The bowl games are now appropriately named after their corporate sponsors  and I am waiting for the Kohler/American Standard/Eljer Toilet Bowl to be announced soon. That one I want to watch!

But the “Bowl Season” is a symptom of something terribly wrong. The big-time collegiate athletic picture in this country smacks of greed, hypocrisy, and dishonesty. I say that as a devoted game-watcher and former small-time collegiate coach. Seriously folks, what on earth does this have to do with educating young minds? Answer: nothing whatever; it’s about fielding a competitive team in basketball of football, keeping the alums happy and the undergrads diverted so they don’t realize that their money is being squandered on what their parents mistakenly think is a four-year degree that will give their kids upward mobility. Bollocks! It’s all about having fun and getting into a bowl game — even if your team is 6 and 6. It makes no difference. The point is to get on TV and see your school’s name on ESPN.There’s money to be made, so don’t let education get in the way. Money for some, at any rate. But it isn’t money that improves the quality of education.

All of which simply confirms Curtler’s Law, which states that the quality of education at a Division I school varies inversely with the success of the football program. And I must add that as a Northwestern alum I worry that they are winning football games of late. In the end it’s not about education: it’s about success on the field. If the money that is now pumped into Division I athletics, especially basketball and football, were spent on academic scholarships think of the dividends it would pay. But that’s not going to happen because the temptation to sell the university’s soul for big bucks has been too much for several hundred universities around the country, very few of whom will ever see the money roll in. Just think of poor little cousins trying to keep up — like South Dakota State University.

Things are already rotten in the state of academia all over the country, at every level.  In the typical American college or university, for example, curriculum is incoherent and priorities are skewed; the students themselves, pumped up by an unwarranted sense of entitlement and ill-prepared for study, are busy planning the weekend’s next party. But at the Division I level it’s even worse: faculty are caught up in the publish-or-perish frenzy that directs their attention away from their students; classes are crowded, and students must sit in auditoriums while being taught by graduate assistants who have their own agendas and are therefore unwilling to push the students to do their best. These problems are compounded by the sports mania. What the large, Division I universities do not need is the distraction of big-time football and the diverting of monies and attention away from what is of central importance to any college or university. In the end, the student is the victim. But never mind. If we are lucky maybe next year we will make it to the Toilet Bowl.


9 thoughts on “The Toilet Bowl

  1. would you believe that on Christmas Eve I wondered, “Are there bowl games going on in the ‘states?’

    ha HA! I laughed at the title of this post when it arrived in the inbox!

    i’m glad minei s a much-simpler life now!


  2. If they played an actual Toilet Bowl, it should be between two teams who epitomize all that’s been wrong with college football of late, and then some — Ohio State vs. Penn State. Neither is eligible for a bowl game this year because of their punishments, but they could play it illicitly, maybe in another country. What the heck, both were pretty good at creating their own rules, and breaking existing ones, so one more instance of ignoring NCAA regulations would not matter much. And it would be a fast-moving game since all penalty flags would be overlooked. The winner would get the championship rings pawned by the Ohio State players. If Penn State wins, there’d be no need for a downtown post-game riot, since there’s already been one.

  3. Good post. As I traveled back up I-95 after visiting my mom, I saw the poor souls driving south to see the various strains of Toilet Bowls being played in Florida. They were headed for two hour trafffic slow ups and did not know it. UNC has had its bouts this year with academic fraud in the football prorgram, but is also apparent a few of Dean Smith and Roy Williams’ basketball players took a few crip classes. One of my best friends played baseball for Jacksonville University and he witnessed some of the basketball players taking a basketball PE elective. I also learned there is pressure on athletes to NOT attend real classes at big name schools as they intefere with practice schedules. That is not right. Take care, BTG

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