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Sport and society for the extravagance of Arete

In a recent analysis of the flow of money in intercollegiate football, The Washington Post exposed with considerable detail the not so surprising Conclusion that the income in the Five Power Conferences have increased dramatically during the last decade, while the spending has exceeded the growth of the income. Nationwide, between 2004 and 2014, some 48 sports departments increased their revenues from $ 2.67B to $ 4.49B. Despite the apparent gain, 25 of those departments had a deficit in 2014, and two of them, Auburn and Rutgers, lost more money in 2014 than in 2004.

The ability to finish without debt seems to be an endangered talent, while the extravagant tastes of sports departments seem insatiable.

Several years ago, this trend was described as an "arms race" and involved things like bigger and better training facilities, practice facilities, number and quality of trainers and more assistant coaches. There were new stadiums, or stadiums renovated and expanded with more luxury boxes for corporate use or simply for the care and feeding of politicians and donors.

In recent years, the arms race has reached the training table where the team's dietitian has been replaced by a team of dietitians, and the athletic departments have hired gourmet chefs. A recent survey conducted by the Association of Professional and Collegiate Sports Dieticians (yes, there is such an organization) found that in the main athletic programs the average spending on food and beverages by 145 percent in the last year was $ 534,000 to $ 1.3M. This followed the NCAA's decision to raise limits on the spending of meals and snacks for athletes.

The operative rule seems to be that if you can do it, you must do it.

In the state of Ohio, always a leader in these matters, there is now a team of four registered dietitians funded by a budget of $ 1.5M, double what it was a year ago. Ohio State has also added "fuel zones" in its training facilities where athletes can find sandwiches, chips, fruits, yoghurts and hummus. What? No caviar?

New kitchens were added to the sports landscape, where the best available chefs showcase their talents for the benefit of the student athletes. Auburn, the university that can easily boast of being the largest spender in the intercollegiate arms race, added three dietitians, a Greek yogurt bar for its fuel stations and a $ 6.6M wellness kitchen. These chefs also serve luxury boxes, special events and a lot of the culinary needs of the sports department.

It is interesting that in most discussions of their nutrition programs the phrase "feed the athlete" is used. Is the athlete being equated with a machine? Is this simply another objectification of the university athlete? Maybe not, but it's getting closer and reveals another unhealthy trend in the world of sports.

Maybe nothing says excess, as well as the remodeling of the Texas A & M stadium. For just $ 450 million dollars, Kyle Field has added some distinctive appointments to the decoration. There is a 100-yard football-shaped atrium, the Heritage Lounge made of dark wood to highlight the black and white photos of football heroes and past games, and for the truly generous supporters is the Founder's Club. It consists of 12 suites located on the 50-yard line and houses those willing to spend $ 5M to $ 12.5M. during the next five to 20 years. Oil paintings of the generous adorn the suite along with custom furniture, all in what I'm sure is the best of tastes. The Club has two bars, a grand piano and a spider that hangs over the proceedings. The new seating capacity of the stadium is located in Michigan, the state of Ohio and the territory of Penn State at about 103,000.

This wonderful addition to A & M has unleashed a mad expansion career elsewhere. Notre Dame, Arizona State and Oklahoma have announced plans for luxury additions in their stadiums. It can only be assumed that many others will follow, since sports departments seem to have more money than they can imagine how to spend. Maybe some creative athletic director thinks about buying the exclusive rights of Emerill, the person, for the care and feeding of athletes, alumni and promoters.

Meanwhile, those who break the budget will have to content themselves with increasing the price of the coaches. The top ten salaries now start at more than $ 4 million and go to Nick Saban, who along with Jim Harbaugh are north of $ 7 million. Urban Meyer is less than $ 6M in third place. Clearly, something must be done about it, since Meyer could be in danger of receiving a lower payment than the four OSU dietitians.

The salaries of the coaches have doubled in the last decade and show no signs of slowing down the pace. In addition, assistant coaches have seen their compensation skyrocket with the updated coaches' salaries. Assistant coaches now go down from $ 250,000 to $ 1.5 million a year in major soccer schools, while the number of attendees has increased geometrically.

Add to the salaries the benefits such as the use of airplanes, cars, houses, memberships of country clubs and anything else that the A.D. or coach can think, and soon will be talking about real money. Then, of course, there are the goodbye gifts. A few weeks ago, the University of Central Florida pushed his coach through the door and gave him $ 200,000 per year for the next five years to serve as an advisor for the twelve days of the year. That seemed excessive to some, until recently it was learned that if Les Miles lost his job at LSU, his farewell gift would be between $ 15 and $ 20 million. The reward of failure, of course, has become commonplace in this country of gold parachutes and purchases.

And a further greeting to Auburn from the Washington Post study. In September, Auburn introduced a new 11,000-square-foot HD video screen that is the height of a five-story building. At night, it produces a glow that can be seen across the Alabama plains for thirty miles. The cost was $ 13.9M spent on batting by an athletic department that recorded a debt of $ 17M in the prior year.

All this fiscal mismanagement is courtesy of those who insist that the athletes, the main attraction in the intercollegiate athletic spectacle, should not be paid so that they do not suffer the curse of not being more fans.

In Sport and Society, Dick Crepeau reminds you that you do not have to be a good sport to be a bad loser.

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