Football is not that important! (of course, that depends on one’s perspective!)

August 15, 2011

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There, I said it. I realize that, for a lot of people, that’s a heretical statement (especially, my friends from University of Georgia). This morning, I picked up the local paper, and there was yet another article about football. It seems inconceivable that we still are concerned about football, with all that has happened to the world economy over the last couple weeks. Our portfolios have shrunk, children are dying of starvation in Somalia, and we’re worrying about football? Please! People disagree over whether Holden Thorp, our Chancellor, should have dismissed Butch Davis when he did. When it comes to personnel issues: a lot of people may have opinions, but few have the facts about a particular case. There are restrictions about what we can discuss in the face of a layoff or dismissal. Neither I nor most other Monday Morning quarterbacks know details of this situation. Recognizing that, knowing that such situations evolve, and the last thing we want to do is rush to judgment (remember the Duke lacrosse players’ case?), and knowing our Chancellor, I support him.

I’ve been reading some interesting books about football and universities.

1. Football U by Douglas Toma—discusses the culture of sports and how football creates a sense of community, helps universities reach out to alumni and others, brands colleges and helps distinguish apparently similar universities from one another

2. Big Time Sports in American Universities by Charles T. Clotfelter (assigned for Chancellor’s Retreat)—from the Amazon description: The book takes this (sports as a core function of universities) function seriously and presents evidence necessary for a constructive perspective about its value. Although big-time sports surely create worrying conflicts in values, they also bring some surprising positive consequences.

Now, let’s get on with the really important challenges of leading this University in a very challenging time!

Our orientation for new students is a week from Monday. Happy Monday! Barbara

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The views expressed in this blog are Barbara Rimer’s alone and do not represent the views and policies of The University of North Carolina or the Gillings School.