[eDebate] Additional Program Development Thought: on athletics

pete bsumek bsumekpk
Tue Apr 25 09:22:47 CDT 2006


some thoughts on jake and ede's discussion.

if i remember right--most studies conclude that footbal and basketball
don't make money--they lose it (factor in all the scholarships, travel,
etc).  so even that cash cow arg is bogus.  but alums love the big sports.
 so they cash cow arg persists even as a myth.  so they claim the run in
the red to make the money via donations.

no need to see exclusivity between what jake and ede.  the atheletics model
should be mobalized, but not by delinking from the academics.  they can
work together.

2 ways to leverage this:

1.  administrator embarrasement: most administrators know the deal--and in
some ways they are embarrased about it.  how can a university find millions
of dollars for a new stadium scoreboard, or thousands for tv's in a
basketball lockerroom, and not come up money for a debate prpogram?  a. if
the mission of a university/college is as it says--where is the committment
to excellence in education.  debate awards prove to the parents of ALL
recruits that the university is awesome at academics. b. community service
and showcase events--lots of programs do on campus public debates and that
means the bang for the buck is more than just the members of the team. 
debate offers community relations & service (especially teaching high
schools and jr. high schoolers), broad student participation and an
introduction to important aspects of liberal education.  for example, a
chance to teach lots of people about what a debate is, and why they are
really important--the principles of deliberative democracy, etc.  most
people still don't understand that a debate is for the audience--not just
the debaters.  public events help educate audiences (not just about the
issues, but about the process of adversarial decission makking)--debate is
not a spectator sport. we help educate people about that, while providing
service to the university community and the broader community.  debate
across the curiculum, organizing community forums (i.e. school board
candidate debates), traditional public debates, volunteering to teach
debate at local high schools, etc. 

yes, debate programs need to "raise their own money," but what that means
can be quite broad.   

2. Debate as cash cow--alums are big--debaters become lawyers and doctors
(ok the fake kind) such, they are loyal to the team and the istitutuion. 
just takes a little seed money.  the more cool stuff the program does, the
more alums will want to support it.

couple of ideas--maybe they help some folks.

cheers, pete

ps. don't forget to CULTIVATE RELATIONSHIPS with every administrator, and
every athletic boster (faculty or not) that you can find.  help them think
of debate in some athletic terms (acheivement, committment, etc.), but also
help them see debate as the awesome educational practice and activity that
it is.  In small towns teach debate in local schools--half the kids you'll
be teaching have parents that work at the university. kids love
debate=university loves debate.

     

---- Original message ----
>Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2006 15:41:33 -0400
>From: "Josh Hoe" <jbhdb8 at gmail.com>  
>Subject: Re: [eDebate] Additional Program Development Thought  
>To: "Ede Warner" <ewarner at louisville.edu>
>Cc: Jacob Weigler <j_weigler at hotmail.com>, edebate at ndtceda.com
>
>   Dr. Warner is right about the problems of creating
>   revenue...Administrations at State schools, especially in a
>   decade where cuts to state budgets have really cut higher ed
>   funds, are turning more an more to a model requiring you to raise
>   your own funds. I know that trying to continually find revenue
>   streams through bad economic years in Michigan is truly
>   challenging.  Sounds like Ede is trying some interesting new
>   ideas at Louisville.
>    
>   I used to feel upset that I had to raise money and couldnt just
>   "coach debate" but I fear that is going to become more and more
>   of an essential debate coaching survival skill.
>    
>   Anyway, I agree that the court decisions around Title 9 have much
>   to do why non-revenue generating sports remain on most college
>   campsuses.
>    
>   Josh 
>
>    
>   On 4/21/06, Ede Warner <ewarner at louisville.edu> wrote:
>
>     The repeated argument I've heard is that men's basketball and
>     football
>     are the cash cows and create resources from which the others
>     are funded.
>     Since Title IX, the argument has been you must create an equal
>     amount
>     of women's opportunities.  So generally schools reduce their
>     total
>     number of men's sports if they don't generate a lot of revenue
>     in the
>     "main two".  If they do, like Louisville, they maintain all of
>     the
>     non-revenue generating male sports and simply offer more
>     women's sports.
>     Their ability to protect still comes from the generation of
>     revenue.
>
>     The ability of speech and debate activities to exist outside of
>     departments and not be funded like smaller student run clubs
>     will come
>     down to the ability to generate revenue for most schools (run
>     like a
>     business).  I don' t know how to do that outside of what is
>     sucessfully
>     done at Michigan and other places:  institutes, handbooks, etc.
>
>     We are going in the other direction.  One of the things we are
>     doing is
>     trying to institutionalize debate as curricular instead of
>     extra-curricular.  Create another classes to offer forensics as
>     part of
>     a minor, or a certificate, or a degree program, then speech and
>     debate
>     can compete for academic resources.  In particular, our school
>     is
>     pushing online distance education.  Students pay 30% above
>     normal
>     tuition to take these courses and departments are given a
>     stipend/refund/kickback for each student that takes the
>     course.  The
>     debate team is teaching 3 of these courses a semester, and is
>     moving
>     towards creation of our own program, "Urban Communication" of
>     which
>     debate will be a centerpiece.
>
>     Debate will have to find ways to generate revenue to survive,
>     whether
>     it's accessing tuition dollars or external funding.  Jake's
>     framing
>     below was, is, and will be ineffective if the financial piece
>     is not
>     also addressed.  I think this analogy fails without the
>     comparable
>     revenue piece of the major sports.  But perhaps I'm wrong.
>
>     Jake:  "I throw this out there cause it does seem like there
>     would be
>     benefits to framing the value of debate in the athletics
>     context:
>     recruitment of exceptional students, development of an
>     excellent alumni
>     base, broad and focused publicity for the school. And frankly,
>     unlike
>     Parli or speech, success in policy debate requires a time
>     commitment
>     similar to that of a collegiate athlete."
>
>     Ede:  What if debate alumni created a "National Debate
>     Endowment" for
>     example?  And there were certain conditions attached to how
>     participating schools would benefit from it?  One thing that
>     administrators LOVE is matching. "If we can get something from
>     an
>     external source, we'll throw in the other half."  When
>     administrators
>     feel their resources are stretched by new money into an
>     institution,
>     they seem to respond well.  Instead of only making arguments
>     asking for
>     resources, debate needs to generate something if administrators
>     are
>     going to take seriously requests for additional
>     funding.  Debate needs
>     to think about itself as a business if that is the model
>     education is
>     going to.  Just my thoughts, based on my experiences.
>
>     >>> "Jacob Weigler" <j_weigler at hotmail.com > 4/21/2006 1:08:11
>     PM >>>
>
>     I've been reading the back and forth with some interest and
>     decided
>     that it was worth throwing one additional point into the mix.
>     As has been discussed, it is becoming increasingly difficult to
>     convince school administrators to spend thousands of dollars
>     per student
>     to support the activity. I won't rehash the debate about
>     causes, but
>     what has interested me is that universities have no trouble
>     ponying up
>     such sums for athletics - indeed it is pretty much assumed that
>     these
>     activities will require such funding with equipment
>     requirements,
>     facilities, travel, coaching staff and such.
>     There are other obvious parallels such as the recruitment of
>     top-tier
>     high school debaters to the top-tier college programs,
>     scholarship
>     disparities, and a coaching staff allowed to devote a
>     primary/substantial focus to debate that also suggest many
>     things in
>     common with the perennial debate powerhouses and college
>     athletics.
>     The relevance of this, to me, is the ability of college
>     athletics to
>     retain all of these resource commitments when schools as a
>     whole are
>     streamlining and becoming more focused on a business model for
>     education. Obvious answers like "Football, Basketball, etc.
>     make money
>     for schools," don't explain the continued support of dozens of
>     other
>     sports like volleyball, tennis, water polo, etc. that are much
>     more
>     equivalent to debate in terms of creating visibility for
>     schools and
>     drawing down alumni support. The answer, I would suspect is the
>     economies of scale that allow for an athletics department with
>     the
>     administrative clout to protect budgets, create a vehicle pool,
>     recruit
>     staff and incoming students, etc.  I tried to create a similar
>     architecture when I started the nyu program (reaching out to
>     parli, mock
>     trial, ballroom dance, quiz bowl and other activities that
>     traveled like
>     we do) with mixed results largely due to the student-led nature
>     of most
>     of them, but it is something that perhaps others have/could
>     explore.
>     I throw this out there cause it does seem like there would be
>     benefits
>     to framing the value of debate in the athletics context:
>     recruitment of
>     exceptional students, development of an excellent alumni base,
>     broad and
>     focused publicity for the school. And frankly, unlike Parli or
>     speech,
>     success in policy debate requires a time commitment similar to
>     that of a
>     collegiate athlete.
>     The larger question, of shifting debate out of departments to a
>     more
>     explicit "activity/competition" focus, is a more difficult one.
>     It seems
>     to me to be the flip side of the discussion that has been
>     happening
>     about the disconnect with the academy. Implicity it seems to
>     already be
>     happening at several programs across the country. There are
>     some obvious
>     downsides, the chief in my mind being that it puts coaches in a
>     difficult position. No one expects a basketball coach to get
>     tenure or
>     write papers (though it seems like at an increasing number of
>     schools
>     the same goes for the debate coach).
>     Regardless of whether such a dramatic shift is
>     adviseable,  taking
>     proactive steps to forge, share and refine these alternate
>     models is
>     something positive we can do rather than watching the pool of
>     resources
>     at programs continue to decline as we mutter about needing to
>     "just try
>     harder."
>     So, this is all fascinating Jake, but so what? Not sure I have
>     all the
>     answers, but it does seem that the economies of scale advantage
>     of
>     athletics is something we should take seriously. There have
>     been
>     numerous efforts at the national level on the CEDA & NDT side
>     to compare
>     notes and share strategies, but my suggestion would be to
>     institutionalize this - relying on the good will and extra
>     effort of our
>     officers or committee members is simply asking too much over
>     the long
>     term.
>     Hope this contributes to the conversation.
>     j.
>
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Pete Bsumek, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor/Director of Debate
Co-Director Center for Constructive Advocacy and Dialogue
MSC 2106
54 Bluestone Dr.
1276 Harrison Hall
School of Communication Studies
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
(o) 540-568-3386
(c) 540-421-4105
(f) 540-568-6059





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