Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Putting U of O Academics before Athletics

Ninety-two University of Oregon senior faculty members are calling for the university's administration to ration back funds for the school's gluttonous athletic department and to start nourishing the university's languishing academic programs.

The professors laid out their case in a letter to the Eugene Register-Guard last week.

Unfortunately, the signers don't adequately address the role of major athletics in anesthetizing alumni in a consumptive/escapist, post-graduation culture.

Just as we need the moral equivalent to war, we need the imaginative/creative equivalent to tailgate parties, bouncy cheerleaders and the 90-yard kick-off return.

One symptom of the problem is the perverse hyping of the annual Duck-Beaver game as "The Civil War." The sad, tired tradition calls for a reminder: Civil war is being waged on the bloody streets of Baghdad. It is nothing to cheer about.

As I've said before, it's well past time for a new name for the game, one that puts the rivalry, the teams and the athletic budgets in proper perspective. The name change, and even the debate about it, would certainly help the cause of academics, knowledge and awareness.

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