Amateur Hour at Maryland

The glamorous world of college athletics has a seedy side, and you only have to look at what happened this week at the University of Maryland to see what’s beneath the glitz.

Maryland’s football team just went 8-4, which earned the team the right to play in a bowl game, and garnered their coach, Ralph Friedgen, the ACC “Coach of the Year” award. Given all of this, you might think all would be well in the land of the Turtle, but you’d be wrong. Despite all of this success, this week the administration fired Friedgen, an alumnus by the way, because his Terrapin teams didn’t draw enough fans. In other words, the coach lost his job — not because of an NCCAA violation or because his players didn’t go to class or win games —  he lost his job because he couldn’t sell enough seats.

Several years ago, the administration at Maryland decided to “overbuild” their football stadium, which required them to install a number of luxury boxes, boxes which have remained unsold. It was those empty luxury boxes, (Shouldn’t “luxury boxes” be a misnomer at a state-funded university?) which cost Friedgen his job.

As if all of this weren’t bad enough, it is believed that Maryland will soon hire Mike Leach, a wildly successful coach at Texas A and M, to replace Friedgeon. It’s worth remembering that Leach was fired in Texas last year because he was being investigated by the NCAA for charges related to his locking a player in a tool shed.

During the press conference last week, Maryland’s president referred to the “integrity” of the program. And we wonder why students are sometimes cynical?





5 thoughts on “Amateur Hour at Maryland

  1. I think Dr Power very rightly uses stories like this as a means of accessing the UCC teenage psyche–one that is obsessed with sport. The following is taken from Lewis Lapham’s introductory essay from his “Sports and Games” issue, which I highly recommend.

    ‘Rosenstock-Huessy was a German army officer in World War I, afterward a professor of medieval law in Breslau until the Nazis acquired the franchise in 1933. Signed for the next year’s season by Harvard University to teach undergraduates the rudiments of Western civilization, he soon noticed that few of them grasped what he was trying to say, couldn’t square the lines of thought with the circle of their emotions. To overcome the difficulties the professor recast his lectures in the idiom of sports and games, the only world, he said, “in which the American student really has confidence … this world encompasses all of his virtues and experiences, affections and interests.”

    True then, even truer now, not only of college students but of every loyal American, naturalized or native-born, for whom sport is the soul of democracy, the field of dreams on which they come to bat, cut a deal, catch a break, stay the course, run out the clock. It is with the metaphor of sport that we forge an American consciousness, locate a national identity, replay our history, book the odds on a winning or a losing future. What other sets of reference do we share in common if not the ones that hold true to form in the fourth quarter as in the first, away and at home, inside and outside the ropes?’

    Certainly Lapham’s analysis extends to the Canadian consciousness.

  2. I agree that sport has little to do with it.

    However, interesting note: I went to the trouble of doing a word-find for the past three pages of your honestly wonderful and interesting blog, and here were my results:

    (Disclaimer: I think your an awesome principal with great principles, and I also want to succeed in the IB program, so I hope none of this is offensive.. it is meant with the most seraphic of intentions)

    The words ‘sport’, ‘athlete’, and ‘athletics’ came up a total of 24 times.
    The words ‘art’, ‘music’, and ‘drama’ when referring to their respective art forms came up a total of 2 times.

    To be honest, I haven’t read all of your entries, and don’t know if the findings of the ‘find’ function are correct… I’m also not trying to change you or your interests – or word-choice – I just figured that it never hurts to acknowledge our natural bias (there’s TOK for you…)

    Lastly, I think it could be an interesting topic for one of your monday-morning speeches, discussing the weight placed at our school on arts vs. athletics… I know several students (and faculty) that would be intrigued if you spoke about it. Personally, I believe that if more students graduate to pursue lives strongly impacted by athletics more so than the arts I would think our current situation is right, although I don’t have the evidence, and don’t know if it’s possible to gain such evidence, to support a personal opinion.

    I apologize for the lengthy comment.

    1. You raise a great point, Mark.

      I was caught up short last summer, when an Old Boy told me that he missed my Monday morning “sports stories.”


      I need to highlight the importance of arts. What’s challenge for me is that sports lend themselves so easily to moral/character issues, topics that are in my sweet spot.

      Thanks for the reminder.


  3. I noticed that you didn’t use the word “sport” once in your essay.

    Don’t know if it was a conscious decision, but if it was, good call. “Sport” has precious little to do with this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s