Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

April 2, 2014

Money not only measure of college sports’ value

GLASGOW — Money is often the underlying theme of major college sports. We talk about whether players should be paid, whether coaches are paid too much, whether administrators should receive hefty bonuses for athletes’ achievements, whether tickets are too expensive, whether broadcast contracts have too much influence on conference affiliations, whether taxpayers should help fund facilities, and on and on.

All of these are legitimate questions, but college sports don’t have to be defined by them. This week in Kentucky, for instance, we are reminded that sports can be more than just a business or a hobby – the games are also about family, about bonding.

As the University of Kentucky Wildcats prepare to play Saturday in the NCAA tournament’s Final Four in Texas, the Daily Times wrote this week about 92-year-old UK fan Marie Jones. Jones’ eyesight is deteriorating, so her devotion to the Wildcats is aided by family members who sit with Jones and describe the action on the television screen. Meanwhile, Jones takes phone calls throughout the games from other relatives. For Jones – and for many others around this state – college basketball is literally a family affair.

Say what you will about the fortunes being made off the endeavors of college athletes, about the pricing out of the average fan or about the financial balance between athletics and academics at some institutions. We agree that many issues regarding college sports warrant serious consideration.

But even if it’s merely a happy byproduct of the NCAA machine, we celebrate the togetherness these games inspire. In a society where too many relationships exist in purely digital form, it is a good thing when people come together in arenas, in living rooms or in restaurants for old-fashioned analog interaction.

These moments might be worthless to a bottom line, but money isn’t always the most important measure.

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