Weather-watchers will often complain that there is too little rain where it’s needed, and too much rain where it is not.
I feel the same way about money and sports – too little money where it’s needed, and too much money where it is not.
While physical education is being eliminated in elementary schools and interscholastic athletics are being gutted in junior high/middle schools and high schools, college sports are awash in extravagant new revenue from broadcasting and merchandising rights. For example ...
The athletic departments of UCLA, Ohio State, California, Notre Dame and Wisconsin will receive more than $1 billion combined from Under Armour over the next 15 years. The University of Michigan has announced a 15-year, $169 million deal with Nike. Michigan State University has a multimedia rights deal pending with Fox Sports worth $150 million over 15 years. Both Michigan and MSU will benefit richly from what is likely to be a new $440 million per year package with the Big Ten Network.
Meanwhile, for lack of funds, schools reduce or eliminate physical activity from the school and after-school curricula. Inactivity rates soar, as do childhood obesity rates, as do medical expenses to treat obesity-related illnesses in adults.
In sports as in most other aspects of American society, ours is a free-market system that allows the rich to get richer, with little regard for the consequences. It’s a system that invites misplaced priorities. Of celebrity more than substance. Of immediate gratification over investing in the long-term health of a nation and its people.