Thursday, December 29, 2011

Big football, bad grades?

Three U of Oregon professors conducted a study on their campus which suggested that big, successful football leads to general decline in students' GPAs.
I was surprised this story made the New York Times because the study is of just one university.
Now I am all about showing the downside to excessive intercollegiate football programs, but I think one study does not really indicate the whole reality. There is a culture created by big-time sports. But there are questions that remain. Is it only football? What about big-time basketball, like at Butler, (I met an alum over Christmas) where enrollment has skyrocketed?
One of the study's authors said "I teach these students. And I know that on Thursdays there’s this subtle distraction in the classroom, and the game isn’t even until Saturday."
Um, yeah. That happens everywhere. Because in college, the weekend starts on Thursdays. Happened at my undergrad university where football was not as big (though not small). Happened at the small liberal arts college I taught at. Happens at community colleges. Fidgety students are everywhere. Football might exacerbate that, but I think you would have to control for other things.
Kudos though to the authors for having a strong qualitative component to this study in addition to just examinng GPAs. Seems a better way to understand campus culture.
See? A quiet place to study amidst the tailgating chaos.


Anonymous said...

You might be interested in checking out Charles Clotfelter's work. He's a professor at Duke (no novice at "big time sports") and also uses quantitative information, collected from a good number of schools, to show the downturn in academic productivity following games, etc.

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