Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More economic talk

If you're sick of hearing or depressed about the economy and the myriad of effects--stop reading here. Because there has been a lot of talk about how the recession is affecting sports. I've already mentioned it here. But it seems sports and the economy are the hot topic so I thought I would run down what I have seen so far.
Schools, of course, are going through budget cuts (though doesn't it seem that public schools are always in a budget crunch?) and some of the cuts are in athletics. Title IX Blog has a post about how parents are ensuring that female athletes do not receive the brunt of those cuts.
USA Today has a piece about the problems non-major sports are having and includes: some concern over how the WPS will fare in this economy; news of Arena Football's suspension; and the loss of the Houston Comets. Of course not everyone is suffering. Men's professional soccer in North America is expanding. The National Lacrosse League had a soldout crowd at it's championship game and has kept fans coming in by pricing tickets on the lower side (also a tactic the WPS will take) and giving fans access to players. And, of course, the Yankees' deep pockets don't seem to getting any shallower: their new stadium is a $1.3 billion facility (I'm not sure, but I would assume at least some of that cost is being subsidized by tax dollars--I haven't looked into the specifics) and the team will spend over $423 million on free agents in the off season.
Another USA Today article from earlier in the week talks specifically about the problems bobsledding is having. Bobsledding! Guess it really is a sport, after all. The national federation, which also governs skeleton (why not luge, too??) can only send one sled over to Europe for world cup events. That means a lot of top American bobsledders are staying home and training for the world championships that will take place in Lake Placid but without the benefit of world competition.
Bobsled and other Olympic sports will be hurt by the end of Home Depot's sponsorship which includes the end of their jobs for athletes program that offered athletes flexible hours, full time pay and benefits while they trained.
And even in light of all this, people are still asking a question I am so sick of: should student-athletes get paid? This post from the Bleacher Report asks more questions than it answers all to conclude that this issue isn't going anywhere. I don't have the energy to go through the piece and address all the issues. But I find it incredible that the issue is being raised even as athletic departments are trying to find ways to cut costs.

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