Monday, August 22, 2016

How To Fix The "Humanities Crisis"? Hire the NCAA's Marketing Team

Time spent on book: 6 hours
What I did: The introduction, wherein I make fun of something I wrote
Grade for the day: B+


The NCAA has many (many, many) shortcomings (See: Taylor Branch). But they do one thing really well--they convince people that sports are valuable beyond the playing fields.

What do I mean by this?

They market sports as being more than just sports. Student-athletes excel in the classroom and in the job market, they tell us. Why? Because of all those skills that they learned through their sports. Hard work; determination; time management; collaboration; respect for authority; communication; leadership.

All great skills. 

All skills that translate to the workplace. 

And all skills that the NCAA--and folks associated with athletics more generally--hold up as being valuable for the complete development of the person.

Selling me on this is easy. I ran cross country and track in high school and college. And now, I am the Faculty Athletic Representative for Saint Francis. So I'm a company man to the bone. 

But I talk to incoming student-athletes and their parents all the time. They get it too. We're all able to think abstractly about how the lessons learned in sports translate to other things. 

OK, so keep that in mind and follow me on this little thought experiment....

Imagine a young woman who is accepted to a college and given a scholarship to play soccer. What would her parents say upon word of this achievement? Lots of congratulations, I'm sure. 

But here is something that she would not hear....
"Soccer? OK, that's nice. But what are you going to do with that?"  
Why wouldn't you hear that? Well, because EVERYBODY knows that playing college sports is how you prepare for life! 

Stay with me, because the thought experiment continues.

Let's say that this same young woman earned a scholarship not for sports, but for academics. And let's say that she was intending to study--oh, I don't know-- English literature. 

She would likely hear something along the lines of....  
"English? OK, well, I suppose you can find happiness as a barista....  OH I CAN'T HOLD IT IN ANY LONGER!!!! SWEET MERCIFUL GOD PLEASE RESONSIDER!!! PLEEEAAAASSSSSSEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!"  
And so it goes...

So what do we take away from this? 

The humanities needs to hire whoever is doing marketing for the NCAA. They have figured out something that we simply have not--how to convince people that doing something that is not directly associated with a job can still prepare you for a job. 

Certainly, there are untold numbers of articles and books making this case out there. But whenever I think that this argument is taking hold, someone like Marco Rubio comes out and says that "we need more welders and less philosophers."

Actually, we need more linebackers; and forwards; and centers; and runners; and throwers; and setters; and....

Because, hey, those are skills that you can use. Right?

No comments:

Post a Comment