Like any living, breathing human being, I don’t like to admit when I’m wrong. As little as I try to let this phenomenon happen, sometimes things just slip through the cracks. Today is a day where I correct, or maybe more accurately clarify, one of those mistakes.
A few months ago, I wrote a piece about the prospects of Indiana Wesleyan University getting a football team. How it didn’t happen last year, how it probably won’t happen for a while but how we can all look forward to the Wildcat logo on a gridiron … someday.
But I failed to consider the cost.
I don’t take back anything I said. Should IWU ever field a football team, I will be first in line for tickets. I’ll be at every game. I’ll cheer until I can’t anymore. But until that happens, I will not be cheering for this school to pick up the pigskin.
It’s not because I hate football, it’s actually my favorite sport. It’s because I love IWU without football and getting a team would change some fundamental things about this university.
Education and athletics have always had an interesting relationship. Ever since you were in high school and the drama club wondered why it was stuck with second-rate props while the basketball team got all the funding it needed. That precarious relationship continues through the college ranks. Starting a football team at a small school like IWU adds more than just something new to do on Saturdays.
One of the more noticeable aspects football adds is sheer numbers. Taylor University is a comparable college that already has a team. The Trojans’ website lists more than 70 active players on the football roster.
At IWU, with an on-campus undergraduate population of around 3,000, it’s easy to wonder where those 70 athletes would come from. The answer is most likely an increase in overall enrollment, another step away from the personal, small-college experience that runs a cool $30,000 a year.
With those additional students would inevitably come a different type of IWU student. This is not always the case, but football would bring student-athletes who come solely for football and are uninterested in contributing to the other aspects that make this school what it is. This goes for any school and any activity, but in my opinion, football at Christian universities tends to be the greatest offender.
Then we have the issue of money. At a university making many cuts to prevent further financial difficulties, is the high cost of a football team and all the accoutrements that go with it really what IWU should focus on at this point?
Two weeks ago, we learned IWU is fielding a Wildcat club football team. This is intended to be a step in the direction of an intercollegiate squad, but on a level that is much less of a financial risk. The players on the Wildcat roster will probably come from current IWU students and not be used as a recruiting tool for high school athletes.
I’m not looking to cause a stir. If nothing else, I hope my words promote contentment for the situation the Wildcats are in right now. A situation that is on purpose, because as IWU’s much-beleaguered administration has rightfully determined, this is not a good time for intercollegiate football.
Maybe the right time is coming. When or if that day comes, you can find me at the 50-yard line. I’ll be painted from head to toe in red, screaming my head off like a moron. But until then, I’m more than happy to cheer for the teams we do have.