January 21, 2019

The Hot Corner: Problems with Pigskin

As we get closer to the changing of the leaves and enter October, football takes center stage in America.

Inevitably students ask the question, “Why doesn’t Webster have a football team?”

Supporters of football are quick to point out that there a few schools in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that already have football programs. Currently, Eureka, Greenville, MacMurray and Westminster have football teams that play in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.

What some supporters might not know is that even if Webster agreed to start a football program, we wouldn’t have the convenience of playing the SLIAC conference like we do in our other athletic programs because the NCAA requires a conference to consist of at least six teams.We would be forced to join a conference in a larger region which would mean traveling to Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota, putting a huge strain on our athletic budget.

The cost of travel is just the tip of the iceberg. The cost of building a turf field alone is $750,000, according to one SLIAC athletic director who wished to remain anonymous. That is without any bleachers, concession stands, or even locker rooms. Throw in the cost of a coaching staff, trainers, and equipment — you have already eclipsed the $1 million mark — without even addressing the concerns of a training facility.

The yearly operational costs of a successful D-III football program could be as high as $450,000, according to the same director.

We already have sports programs that are strong enough to be recognized nationally. Baseball, basketball, soccer and golf have all enjoyed such recognition in recent years.

In spending so much every year to fund a football program, it’d be fair to assume that the other programs would be affected. Why face the potential that in spending more on football we could take away from the success of other programs?

If the basketball coach is trying to recruit an athlete and football is the “top dog” in terms of funding and support, why would that recruit come to Webster to play when they can attend a different school (like ours is now) where each sport is treated the same?

If Webster were to fund another program, especially one as demanding as football, they would have to cut one of the already established sports. If this happened, the athletics department would also face the hurdle of Title IX, known to college athletics as gender equity. According to Title IX, any institution receiving any type of Federal financial assistance must offer equal opportunities, or an equal number of sports for both men and women to participate in. Title IX alone is a major roadblock to any type of a football program at Webster.

Those in favor of the idea of a football team argue that it would create more revenue. However, according to the NCAA, all Division-III schools compete in athletics as a non-revenue making, extracurricular activity for students; meaning that the only true thing that could be counted is student attendance at the games.

When it comes down to it, football just isn’t vital to the success of Webster athletics. The bottom line is that we don’t need a football program to have a respected athletics program.

Right now, our athletics program should focus should on consistently maintaining the success of the programs we already have in place.

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