If camping out is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.
A friend pointed me toward an article recently, posted on none other than NYTimes.com, regarding the simultaneously symbiotic and competitive nature of athletics and education at Division One universities. It’s a pretty good article, albeit extremely long and riddled with full-on Dook love, that piqued my interest regarding our own beloved University.
The bulk of the article addressed athletics’ negative effects on academia, citing at one point University of Oregon’s Glen Waddell (yes, his name is Waddell, and yes, his mascot is the duck). However, instead of dwelling on the issues I was expecting, like how games and practices present challenges to the student-athletes, the article zagged and provided information regarding a successful program’s repercussions on the entire student body. It’s less surprising that the article mentions this side effect than it is how rarely I’ve thought about it, considering it makes perfect sense. The details are there for you if you want to read them, but to put too fine a point on it, when the Ducks were successful, the average male’s GPA dropped 0.02 points for every three football games won over an eight year span. Apparently the women’s grades didn’t take such a hit. Surprise, surprise. Really though, it’s not shocking that it’s the men who suffered, since we tend to get a little more caught up in these things (not that we’re bigger fans necessarily, only that we’re more easily enthralled).
Of particular interest were the paragraphs regarding basketball “campouts”. Unfortunately, Dook got the lion’s share of the attention (although maybe the author hasn’t seen the condition of Krzyzewskiville lately), but there was this gem about our own obsession:
K-Ville is legendary, but similar scenes play out at Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, North Carolina State, the University of Missouri, San Diego State and Xavier University, where students line up or camp out for days to get into games. At the University of Kentucky, they camp out for access to the official start of basketball practice [emphasis in original].
Clearly, even among the crazy, we are insane.
The author, however, opines how these campouts take attention away from studying, referencing crotchety professors at a couple big-time schools, and bemoans the dip in library articles researched after March Madness games. While it’s news to me that libraries are open during the Final Four, it poses an interesting question. Those of you who are students at UK, or really anywhere in the state, do you feel that Big Blue Madness has affected your academic performance at any point? The evidence is there; the results are demonstrable. It probably has. And those of you who are parents with college-age (or soon-to-be-college-age) kids, would you rather your son or daughter go to a school with little to no athletic tradition, like Louisville, in order to make sure they focus on education? Some of us are lucky and have our grades determined by a curve (thanks, law school), so if everybody’s got Cats Fever, no big deal. But for other departments, the adverse affect is very real; your religious following of basketball prodigies could be making you hampering your book-learnin’s.
But is it even a big deal? Is the focus on athletics really something to be concerned about, or just a harmless byproduct of something that’s inarguably an asset to the school and the state? We’ve got a big year ahead of us, and many more to come, that could stir up just the sort of furor that would drop GPAs statewide. But, all things considered, I can’t bring myself to say it isn’t a fair deal. Cs get degrees, and BBN gets #8. Totally worth it.
TL;DR: Nerds are jealous of our basketball team and complain that we don’t read books in March.