South Carolina’s second-largest public university feels the need — indeed, thinks nothing of — spending $55 million to provide players with a miniature golf course, sand volleyball courts, bowling lanes, a barbershop and other amenities pretty much sums up everything that is wrong with college athletics today.I quibble only with the Washington Post's editorial writers in describing the phenomenon as a "virtual arms race." This is what a positional arms race looks like. I'm sure there are writers at the Post who envy the granite counter tops at the mansions of their colleagues in television and government.
It is not just the obscene waste of money. Or that Clemson’s priorities should be more in keeping with the mission of an institution of higher learning. Or that the effort at this school is not unique but part of an unseemly competition of colleges trying to outdo one another. It is also that walling off college athletes in these expensive playgrounds further undermines the reason they should be at school — to learn, to interact, to be part of a larger community.
And a USA Today analysis captures the basis for the form of the competition for recruits. "Unable to pay them salaries, universities have hit upon lavish buildings, with both athletic and recreational amenities, as a way to attract the most promising recruits out of high school." That's why airline food was better in the cartel era.
But that "part of a larger community" doesn't ring true. Not too long ago, a Coalition of Clemson Snowflakes issued a semiliterate and incoherent list of non-negotiable demands that a number of Clemson faculty promptly bought an advertisement showing their solidarity. Or their willingness to give in to grade-grubbing.
Three colleagues were made of sterner stuff.
[Political scientist C. Bradley] Thompson agrees that the letter got people really thinking about the consequences of the student demands to punish certain kinds of protected speech. He said that “several faculty members that had signed the larger, faculty petition were subsequently embarrassed that they had signed” because they had not read it closely and didn’t realize they were advocating punishment of protected speech.Perhaps that's another reason to put money into athletics dorms. Keep the students distracted with beer-'n-circus, and they might not notice their education being educated. Or recognize the parallel punishments of protected speech being bandied about in the national election.
That’s something Thompson predicts would signal disaster, not just at Clemson, but for the everywhere.
“If you believe as I do that ideas have consequences, what happens on American college campuses will eventually percolate its way down and through the culture as a whole. And if we lose free speech on college campuses, we will eventually lose free speech in the country.”