college sports

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Organized sports within the university setting, from specific US team sports such as basketball, American football, and baseball, to track-and-field, and individual sports from tennis to golf and swimming. In the USA, college sports have been long-established routes into professional sporting competition. Golfer Tiger Woods and tennis player John McEnroe both attended Stanford University. Sporting scholarships were available in most US universities for promising athletes from the early 20th century onwards, and a common route became to excel at the Olympic Games as an amateur and then pursue a professional career. For team sports such as basketball and American football, college sports have become feeders for the professional game. Controversies have arisen over athletes' rights and questions of exploitation in relation to the purported academic programme that student athletes follow. Novelist Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons (2005) took Stanford as a model for his biting and satirical depiction of ‘Dupont University’, where less well-off academic students sold their skills to athlete superstars from the basketball team, writing their essays for them and tending them through academic assessment hurdles. College sports have become an essential part of the US sport culture and system, in turn talent-spotting for stars of the future, and generating giant revenues linked to old university rivalries and alma mater nostalgia. See also National Collegiate Athletic Association.

Subjects: Sport and Leisure.

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