Ambrose Bierce, as usual, summarized it best for us in the Devil’s Dictionary:
ACADEME, n. An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
ACADEMY, n. (from academe). A modern school where football is taught.
As evidence for the disheartening, inexorable slide into the abyss, we have this “essay”, supposedly written by a DePaul basketball player in his introductory writing course (be sure to read all of it):
The topic I choose is number four because I like to listing to music especially the love songs because it gets you in the mode for a lot of things. It gets you in the sex mode or even just a chilling mode if you are just relating some where. Love songs some times help people in there relationships some times to because people tend to play songs that’s similar to what they are going through or how they might fill about that person but is afraid to tell the other person, so they let the song say how they really fill about that person.
I don’t really have just one love song I really like because I don’t really listing a lot of slow music. But I have a couple I do listing to when ever I am about to get in to that romance mode or just trying to relaxes in my room. One of the songs I will listing to if a lady friend is over is probably Pretty Ricky song, “Honey” because it sets the mode off right away.
Another song I like is R.Kelly, “filling on your booty”. Now this one is for the one night stand girls because it gets right to the point of what I want to go down. The song starts with chorus and he starts to sing and it goes like this, …
This essay features in a contest by the website Deadspin: “The Search For America’s Dumbest Student-Athlete.” They ask that professors—and many of you are such—send entries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Word of the contest is spreading (pace this post). Even the Chronicle of Higher Education mentioned it. It was from them that I learned of the site Rate Your Students (which has since ceased posting new material).
All professors like confirmation that they do not suffer alone, but the hope was soon exhausted on the Rate Your Students site because it became readily apparent from where many students learn their bad habits. The writing from teachers is poor and laced with profanity. They doubtless feel this makes them hip, a quality they need to possess so that their criticisms of student shortcomings are not pedantic.
In any case, Rate Your Students proves that intellectual inadequacy is not confined to the courts or fields of the groves of academe. But perhaps it is worst there. The contest will tell.
It is often argued that a college’s sports teams—usually just the men’s football squad, the other groups providing only red ink—generate a steady stream of income; and for some schools, this stream is a torrent. True, the salaries of the coaches and athletic directors, plus the upkeep of the fields, buildings (always the newest), and equipment drains a healthy portion of the streams out of the university, but there is always something left over for administrators to play with.
It is not even an open secret, but a truism and a necessary consequence of the need to fill uniforms that most college athletes are poor students, and that if it weren’t for their facility with a ball, most would never meet the colleges’ entrance requirements.
A few are so dismally unable to multiply fractions, or to compose essays, that they wash out. But most glide through with a—thanks to grade inflation—gentleman’s B. This situation is tolerated because administrators, professors, and alumni desire that their schools rate high on ESPN. The football field skyboxes (or equivalent) also make lovely places for presidents and board members to entertain and raise funds.
This wouldn’t be so bad—even the kids who fail get to eat and sleep free for a few months out of each year—except for its effects on the remainder of the students (and some professors). For example, when last I taught, students in two classes expected that I would cancel class the day after the game with the traditional rival. The day after, mind. Other profs did as much for them. It was traditional.
I refused, of course, using the old-fashioned argument that their studies were more important, and that if I had to be in class, they did, too. Come the day after, the census was down a bit, but not substantially. Missing, of course, were two members of the football team. Presumably they were recuperating.