Get rid of the Football team, pshhh please.

By: Marilynn Sandoval

“We need to get rid of the football team to put money elsewhere in our school.” This is the Facebook comment I see on almost every post about budget issues.

When someone says we should eliminate football, it gets me really mad. Not only because some of my great friends at this University are on the football team. But because I don’t think people realize that getting rid of the football team would probably mean a drop in the number of African-American students. Portland State after all prides itself in being diverse.

When I asked my African-American friend on the football team if he would have gone to college without a football scholarship, he immediately answered “no.” If it wasn’t for football, getting a higher education would have been extremely hard financially on his family. He said that his mother was blessed that a football team picked him up and helped pay for his education.

My friend now has the chance to continue his studies and play the sport that he loves. By going to college, he also has a shot at an NFL spot in the future. These are the kind of stories that should be considered when someone says they want to get rid of a sport here at Portland State University. Think about the athletes, rather than your own personal dislike of sports.


What are your thoughts on this?

22 thoughts on “Get rid of the Football team, pshhh please.

  1. I think people really have to consider how sports and education can play a huge role in an athlete’s life here at PSU. I mean getting rid of football, means you are banning 90% of the African American and Caucasian’s education, dreams of being in the NFL and career. There are other strategies on how money can go into schools, i.e. lowering the cost of tuition and books, because tuition is expensive for most students who can’t afford to enroll into college. Lowering the cost of tuition would be an effective method for schools right now. I think it is unethical to ban football at one of the most famous colleges in the nation.

    1. Trevor, we are certainly not one of the most famous colleges in the nation and the likely hood of a college player turning pro is very low. And Marilynn, your friend who plays football said it would be financially hard on his family needs to know that there are other ways besides sports to get into school for low-income students, such as scholarships and financial aid.

      That said students should not have to rely on sports to get into college and tuition and costs should be lowered.

      1. Lulu, thank you for your thoughts and opinions! I definitely agree with you that students shouldn’t rely on sports to get into college.

        In terms of talking about my friend and the financial aspect, I completely understand what you mean. Being on the football team is basically a scholarship and job all at the same time.

        Writing this isn’t meant for it to be looked at the financial aspect but the words we choose and how it affects a certain category of people. This is solely meant to be my opinion and thoughts of the matter so I appreciate any comments and others opinions!

      2. Lulu, aren’t you dating Keegan Mayer the station manager of KPSU, the one who led a petition to defund PSU athletics (which by the way has failed to receive 100 signatures so far – not even close to a mandate from a 30,000 student body)?

        Funny that this charge of attacks and negative sentiment comes from a student fee-funded service that hardly ANY students know about nor utilize. KPS-who? Exactly.

        If you don’t mind, can I ask you how KPS-who exactly benefits students? Can I ask how many events KPS-who puts on that are even attended by students? And when I say students — I do NOT mean yourself, your interns and staff. And if that’s not enough and just to be direct: can I please ask you to stop misusing my student fees to throw parties and music events that no one cares about?

        And you, Lulu: you are so quick to criticize the athletics program but you probably have never even attended a PSU game to support student athletes.

        Now isn’t it ironic that this charge of attacks come from people like you and Keegan who are hardly credible sources to advocate for student interests?

        I can’t (and won’t) take you seriously.

      3. There are strong arguments to why PSU should fund or defund athletics. Criticizing Lulu’s opinion solely because somehow you discovered she dates Keegan, assuming KPSU supports defunding athletics, and assuming Lulu has never been to a PSU game fails to give constructive feedback towards the topic of Marilyn’s post: PSU funding for athletics. Your personal attack on Lulu is idiotic and resembles the brain functioning of an emotionally nonsensical middle schooler.

  2. I feel there is value to subsidized non-STEM degrees and pursuits in higher education, yet unless the return on investment seems high (which, in todays world, practically means STEM), there is a massive dismissal of the pursuit. This would be many liberal arts, sports, and non-mass media entertainment to name just a few. While I may not appreciate, or be a part of these fields or topics, claiming they are somehow “not fit for higher education,” is ignorant elitism at best, serious classism at worst.

    Beyond the actual value these topics bring to both the university and the world, I have always appreciated PSU’s unusually diverse campus, and our athletes are very much a part of that diversity. They are not single parents, returning education students, or war veterans which many of my classes are dominated by, and from that we can learn something unique from their life experiences.

    Finally I feel in particular there is a value to having something resembling an “athletic culture,” on campus. Part of that, it can be argued, is participating in competition at the highest level. So long as athletes and sport doesn’t become so dominant that common sense is ignored and abuses are covered up, which I feel is the case at Portland State, i.e. our teams are not idolized we can have a contribution to our culture from them in the form of them being the best at what they do.

  3. Diversity is good, but that does not answer the question. Does the football team bring revenue to the school? Or does its operating costs exceed its value? There are many schools out there that make a lot of money from the profit mill that is football and athletics. Unfortunately PSU programmes will never gain the popularity that UO or OSU has. If we are taking a substantial loss then we need to justify that loss.

    There are academic and need based scholarships available to any student who applies his or her self. If one is substantially good at the sport of football then that person can probably obtain a scholarship to many of the highly profitable football schools in the United States. The available slots on the NFL are not in high quantity, so it seems wrong in my mind to sell false dreams for a career where supply of football players greatly exceeds demand. We are promoting a culture where people of African descent can only attain wealth by participating in a near gladiatorial sport.

    They focus on a sport when they should be focusing on studies. A study from the University of North Carolina showed us that football players maintain a lower reading level than the rest of the university population. An astounding percentage reading at elementary school levels. They are given passing marks by professors even though they did not earn them, and are strapped for time to actually learn. Participating in sports takes a lot of time, which could be spent on studying. Many colleges offer tutoring services to these students to help them along, but from the results of the study the results are still dismally grim. PSU probably does not have a system like this.

    If the team operates at a significant loss, scholarships not included in costs, then it is best to offer those scholarships as need based or merit based. That way anyone who wants to get out of cyclical poverty can do so by applying themselves mentally. Making it so that the road to success is through sports is a disservice to our athletes. I grew up on food stamps and lived in a poor rural community, yet I worked hard and earned scholarships. I did not participate in sports because I was busy with academic extra-curriculars, which had a higher probability of financial return. If I had been led down the line of thought that sport scholarships would get me where I need to be then I would probably not have made it very far, as those are highly competitive. If we continue convincing people that the way to pay for school is through athletics and not academics then we deter a large portion of the population from reaching college. Effectively regulating the amount of people with African descent entering college. Personally I would like to change the road by allocating more money for academics and boosting the amount of people pursuing such endevours.

    There are other ways to earn money for college besides football. The military and part time jobs can help remove much of the financial burden from the athlete’s family. I have not read any studies on how much time athletics takes, but it might be interesting to compare the time to a part time job. The benefits of having a part time job are probably more so than athletics, as many future employers are looking for work experience. Having to participate in a sport to remain in school makes it more difficult for these athletes to remain competitive for future careers. Not only do they have to compete with those who had plenty of time to study, but also with those who have plenty of work and volunteering experience. This could make it so that many segments of the workforce are largely underrepresented by African Americans (I have not read a study on this, but assuming that your argument that a large population of African Americans go to college because of athletic scholarships it might be interesting to research.)

    Personally I am on the fence about whether PSU should have a football team or not. Without hard data or numbers I refuse to form an opinion. That being said, I think there are a number of interesting arguments to be made for either side and I am interested in what they are.

    1. “There are many schools out there that make a lot of money from the profit mill that is football and athletics.”

      That’s a bit of a stretch. From USA Today:

      “Just 23 of 228 athletics departments at NCAA Division I public schools generated enough money on their own to cover their expenses in 2012. Of that group, 16 also received some type of subsidy”

      So basically you have seven schools where the athletics program can in any way be considered a “profit mill”.

    2. Brendan,

      Good points to bring up, however, should all players be ‘great’ football players or ‘great’ athletes to continue doing what they love?

      Student athletes here are required to have study hall a few times a week, and are required to update their coaching staff on their grades. They are also not allowed to miss any classes, so I’m sure with all this, studies are still a huge role in their life besides being an athlete. Also, many of them get jobs outside sports and school.

      Thank you for sharing your personal story, I’m sure the majority of us can share with you the difficulties of financial issues when attending college.What my hope is for more people to get to know an athlete more and get to know them personally, because they can have amazing stories to share as well.

      Thank you for your comments, very appreciated!

  4. It’s so easy to say “let’s just get rid of athletics and people will give money to school.” The truth is – most of them will not. Those who donate the funds to athletics typically have a specific, emotional connection and a goal in mind. As someone who has worked in Athletics for one of the PAC-12 school as well as in the professional leagues of the NFL and NBA – let me give you just a few examples in addition to the ones already mentioned above (scholarships for those who can’t afford them, capitalizing on athletic talent and ability, etc.)
    Having grown up in Europe where organized college athletics do not exist, I have loved the idea of sustaining athletic communities. Imagine how many women wouldn’t attend certain colleges/schools if not for the sporting programs and Title IX. That in itself would diminish diversity and inclusion.
    How about those international students who move across the globe to play tennis or golf or volleyball… They might never have opportunity to get education in the U.S. as well as share their international perspective with domestic students. Did you know that Portland State recruits punters and kickers from Australia? And, in fact, we do have a couple players born in Africa who found a way to integrate into the new lifestyle through football. Perhaps find a minute to read their inspiring stories.
    I know it’s easy to devalue athletic programs in a city like Portland – where we have so many other activities and options to choose from for educational and entertainment purposes. Yet, look at the number of outstanding, talented, hard-working and competitive athletes we have attracted to move here (or stay in the city instead of moving away). They resemble the qualities an edgy, urban college seeks in its students. They are used to working hard. They are unafraid and fearless.
    Excuses such as “there are not enough professional athletes coming out of here” are just arrogant. Just currently we have a Super Bowl Champion DeShawn Shead and the Broncos’ star Julius Thomas (played basketball for 4 years and only one year of football) bringing a great deal of national publicity to the University that even some of the great academic achievements simply don’t get from the media. We are all looking forward to watching how DJ Davis’ pro career unveils. Did you know our sprinter Geronne Black is traveling next week to Poland to compete in the World Indoor Track & Field Championships representing Trinidad and Tobago? Daniela Solis, former soccer player plays for the national team of Mexico. If you follow the Blazers, you know that Damian Lillard came out of Weber State – our conference rival.
    Finally – think of all the student workers who are able to have jobs while in college! If you actually care to take a trip to the Providence Park or the Stott Center, you will meet an amazing group of young people who are able to gain operational/management/administrative experience while building relationships with D-1 athletes. We have six marketing interns who gain professional experience while promoting Portland State Athletics.
    Then, there are people like me. I learned about the NCAA sports too late to ever play D-1 soccer. But I was able to have a 4-year-long undergraduate internship that lead to a job at the 49ers. In June, I will graduate with the PSU MBA degree – one of the top 10 in the country. This would have never been possible if I weren’t a Graduate Assistant at the Athletic Department. If not that opportunity, I would have never gotten to travel to Vietnam and Europe to represent Portland State. But foremost – I would have never acknowledged one thing: that you never give up passion, creativity and hard work because some people tell you it’s not worth it based purely on financial profitability. Thanks to PSU Athletics I built an amazing professional network, made some of my best friends, and most importantly I know I was able to enhance the PSU experience for those students who cared enough about how their presence impacts our school spirit and made their way to one of our sporting events. I will be forever proud to say I went to school here and was a part of athletics (and football). Go Viks!

      1. Wesley, how many times have you actually gone to an athletic game to support your fellow students? Have you even gotten involved in student activities to empower yourself to enact change on campus? The problem with people like you is that you are always ever so quick to criticize and bring others down but you fail to take action and channel your energy into something constructive and impactful. PSU does not deserve students like you – go somewhere else with your negative baggage!

      2. The US News and World Report rankings did not publish a rank for PSU which means we were somewhere greater than #104. The only business school ranking I can find that has placed us in the top ten is the Aspen Institute’s “Beyond Grey Pinstripes” ranking which was discontinued in 2012 after many major business schools (including Dartmouth, MIT, Duke, Harvard, and University of Chicago) stopped participating. Even then our ranking was only top-ten for certain categories, but not overall as Weronika’s post might suggest.

    1. Weronika, thank you so much for understanding what my point was in writing this blog. Simply for us to think of the athletes and how they benefit from sports.

      Also, thank you for sharing your story and how athletics is a big part in your life as well.

      1. Wesley – I seem to fail at finding the connection between my comment about the quality of the education I am receiving at the Graduate School of Business and the Portland State Athletics. When I entered the full-time MBA program in 2012, those rankings had still applied as presented. Further, the opportunity to market D-1 athletics had an enormous impact on the choice I made (although I did have several options). If you have any questions re: the school – please contact me via my website rather than under this tread. Respectfully, Weronika

      2. “I seem to fail at finding the connection between my comment about the quality of the education I am receiving at the Graduate School of Business and the Portland State Athletics.”

        I and many others share that sentiment which is why we consider athletics to be expendable.

  5. Clearly I find the Athletics a point of differentiation in my choice of schooling. At no other University in the state of Oregon would I be able to host two D-1 conference championship tournaments, create business and marketing plans for them and gain hands-on experience. Everyone else outsources these activities.

  6. I would like to thank you for writing this article. I have been looking for the past couple of weeks for a quotable source to use for a report at school debating whether or not the United States should end public funding of football in America’s schools. It really helped.

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