College Athletics

John R. Thelin

in Education

ISBN: 9780199756810
Published online December 2011 | | DOI:
College Athletics

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The topic of “college athletics” refers specifically to the intercollegiate varsity sports competitions among and between undergraduate student teams in the United States. Indeed, American higher education is unique worldwide in its investment in, and commitment to, providing high levels of competition for students as athletes against their counterparts at other colleges and universities. At the highest level of intercollegiate competition, these teams and their student-athletes serve as a major source of future professional athletes for the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball. In other sports, these college teams provide advanced training and competition for future members of Olympic squads in numerous sports—both for the United States Olympic teams and for the Olympic squads of numerous other nations. This especially includes the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s sponsorship and oversight of Division I programs that are “big time” and that attract large spectator crowds and television viewing audiences nationwide for football and men’s basketball games. College sports as a topic of scholarly analysis has acquired intensity and momentum since the 1980s, and it is now characterized by first-rate scholarship from such disciplinary perspectives as history, economics, sociology, philosophy, and law. Despite the limited, even parochial, scope of this article, with its focus on higher education in the United States, it does have interest and implications for international scholarship. First, the combination of uniqueness combined with the disproportionate resources given to college sports in the United States, at the very least, make the topic an object of curiosity at universities worldwide. Second, the customs, models, and codes that have come to characterize college sports and the ideal of the amateur athlete-scholar in the United States owe a substantial debt to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in England, to which they owe their initial legacy and where college teams in crew and athletics (track and field) provided both influence and cooperation over several decades of inter-university competition between the two nations. Third, as characteristic of the globalization of higher education, colleges and universities in the United States devote increasing attention and resources to recruiting outstanding student-athletes from nations worldwide. This growing practice has resulted both in increased talent and in diversity within the ranks of intercollegiate athletics in the United States.

Article.  7139 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Organization and Management of Education ; Philosophy and Theory of Education ; Schools Studies ; Teaching Skills and Techniques

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