More fitness, no more (elite) sports at one US college

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More fitness, no more (elite) sports at one US college

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Very interesting article!


Spelman—a small, historically black woman's college in Atlanta—is now America's most forward-thinking institute of higher education, when it comes to fitness and athletics. Spelman is not investing another dollar in its intercollegiate sports teams. In fact, it is giving up on competitive sports teams altogether, and using the money to promote fitness for every single Spelman student.

Why be NCAA Division III volleyball third runner-up—when you can be Fitness Role Model Champion of The Future for The Whole Wide World?

A few relevant facts: in 2005, 30% of college students were overweight or obese. The number is almost certainly higher today. By 2030, more than 50% of all Georgia residents are projected to be obese. Four out of five black women over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. Nationally, only about 2% of undergraduates are NCAA athletes, and the vast majority of college athletic programs do not generate profit. Spelman was spending $1 million per year on 80 competitive intercollegiate athletes; now, it will be spending that same money on "a campus-wide health and fitness program" for 2,100 students.


Fitness is what you do so you can move your body and not have diabetes. Okay? Organized sports are completely beside the point. Look, I like watching sports too, but if a college has to make a financial choice between outfitting a tiny number of competitive athletic teams or teaching an entire at-risk student body how to move their bodies and not have diabetes, there is no choice at all. Many people are so scarred by the competitive and brutal nature of their middle school P.E. classes that they adopt a lifelong distaste for anything fitness-related. Understandable. But it need not be that way.

I think this is a great idea, given a limited budget - fitness for all is a better choice than elite sports for an elite few.

I loved this comment below the article:


I applaud Spelman for fighting against the bizarre notion in this country that only the best of the best should do something, and everyone else should drop out and just watch.

Sports? If you're really good, you play in college. If you're exceptionally good, you make fantastic amounts of money for a few years. Otherwise, to the couch you go (the occasional pickup game notwithstanding).

Music? We all own an ipod or something with tens of thousands of hours of music, much of it made by a few people very rich people. How many of us play music ourselves, and make getting together to play a regular part of our social life?

Conversation? Instead of talking to our family and friends, how much time do we spend staring at the tv watching beautiful, wealthy people act out conversations written by other people?

Cooking? Cooking shows on tv are tremendously popular, while we prepare fewer and fewer meals at home.

Sex? I've seen some studies that indicate a negative correlation between porn consumed and sexual activity. Why use your average body to have actual, average sex with your average looking partner when you can turn on your computer and watch far better looking people have better sex than you do?

It's a sad thing, but we are a spectator culture.



I like it. And, in their case, it's an easy decision. Frankly, they're not really giving anything up because sports doesn't make them any money anyway (it costs them). That's not true of other colleges. Elite sports programs (primarily football and basketball) make tons of money which subsidize campus infrastructure, scholarships, academics and those sports which aren't profitable. University of Texas's football program, for example (and Texas is a pretty good team but not one of the best) generated $95 million last year. And that's just direct revenue from TV deals and ticket sales and doesn't include the indirect revenue that comes from fostering school spirit, like t-shirt sales, alumni donations, etc.

The problem is when sports become the primary focus and go against what the school is supposed to be about in the first place. The worst example being the terrible scandal and cover-up at Penn State. Penn State used to be a university that had a football team. Somewhere along the way, they became a football team that had a university.


I vaguely recall some news snippet about (non)competitive black colleges that recieve 'unofficial' financial support from big budget colleges to field a roster for the intended purpose of being an easy win against the patron college and pad their record. I think the only reason stories like it came to light were the winners can't restrain themselves and would run the score up to 60 or 70 to nothing.

given the critical lack of resources the coaches were not apologetic about their decision to take part

so that's kind of the alternative to scuttling the program(s), not attractive