Debating a $4 million project: Leah’s side

Leah Ulatowski , Copy Editor

Lakeland College is considering building a new outdoors sports facility with field turf, and the project will cost approximately $4 million. Lakeland hopes to secure most of the funds through donations, but such projects beg the question: how much should be invested in collegiate athletics?

Some advocate getting rid of collegiate sports altogether, but I disagree because they are a huge source of revenue. Additionally, Lakeland has an exercise science program that allows academics and athletics to occasionally cross over.

Nevertheless, athletic projects should be considered a luxury rather than a necessity, and academic programs should always take precedence. Let’s remember that sports are merely part of the campus culture, especially for Division III schools. Athletics are not the be all and end all of colleges—there are certainly other ways to turn a profit.

One investment more colleges could make is in living facilities. Room and board bring in a lot of revenue, but colleges must compete with off-campus options. A college could have a spectacular sports program, but they lose money if an eyesore of a residence hall turns potential freshmen away or makes them choose off-campus options. While Lakeland certainly keeps up their halls, there are some suites that could use renovation.

Another detriment to investing a lot in athletics is the fact that academic- based programs are at risk of getting put on the back burner. Some colleges dip into other funds in order to pay a single coach millions of dollars annually. We must remember there is an ethical obligation to continue funding the scholar and prodigy as much as athletes, especially in an institution of learning

There is the argument that other programs do not bring in as much revenue as sports, but they’re rarely given the opportunity to. Student publications, theatre groups and music ensembles could promote their colleges a lot more if they were all given even a quarter of the funds that regularly go into sports.

In Division III schools, there aren’t athletic scholarships to attract legions of students. Truthfully, most people don’t grow up dreaming of playing for Division III teams, so these schools can’t pour all their resources into athletics. While they bring in significant revenue through the enrollment of athletes, Division III sports mean less financial aid and less exposure, so independent schools must have other assets.

Lakeland is wonderful about investing in all of its programs, but some programs do have needs. Verhulst, the building in which artists and musicians practice, could benefit from a new heating system. Additionally, the Mirror staff shares a single office with another organization. The music and writing programs offer scholarships to students and prepare them for careers; as fun as sports may be, few athletes play professionally.

I’m not saying that building a new outdoor facility is bad, nor does Lakeland neglect important needs in favor of athletics. It is an exciting renovation, and the funding shouldn’t be problematic if it is achieved through generous donations. Nevertheless, as a nation overall, perhaps it is time to discuss how much is appropriate to invest in collegiate athletics.

 

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