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Ethics and College Sports: Ethics, Sports, and the University

reviewed by Christian Spears - 2006

coverTitle: Ethics and College Sports: Ethics, Sports, and the University
Author(s): Peter A. French
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield, Lanham
ISBN: 0742512738 , Pages: 193, Year: 2004
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What is it about university academicians and their steadfast intolerance of everything intercollegiate athletic? Can we continue to assume that student-athletes are given a fair assessment in the university classroom? How many books do we need on ethics in college sports, corruption in college sports, the amateurism myth, the demise of educational values, or the commercialization of college athletics? Dr. Peter A. French, an ethics professor at Arizona State University, thinks we need another one. He has written a book entitled Ethics and College Sports, which attempts to dispel the same myths other academicians have been trying to eradicate such as the benefits of participating in intercollegiate athletics or for that matter an institution having an intercollegiate athletic program. Dr. French believes that character molding, alumni donations, continued support for academic programs, and the holistic approach to education can be obtained from club or intramurals sports just as successfully as they can from an intercollegiate athletic program. “They can be gained, if they really are there to be gained…through intramural or club programs (p. 3).”

Dr. French attempts to prove his argument by exposing his readers to various “mission statements” promulgated by some of our more influential and affluent colleges and universities. Predictably, the university mission statements make no mention of athletics. The chosen statements are from Texas, North Carolina, Michigan, Miami, and Tennessee; arguably, some of our most recognizable intercollegiate athletic programs reside within those institutions. Though Dr. French concedes that the mission statements “are far too general to focus on specific programs,” he nevertheless indicates, “intercollegiate athletic programs require justifications for their existence in the academy (p. 6).”

Again, the various chapters of his book explore the same themes and arrive at the same conclusions often associated with a critical review of college sports by an academician. The Amateur Myth, The Character Education Myth, The Gender Equity Joke, The Funding Myth and The Entertainment Reality are once again exposed for what they are perceived to be by “the faculty members of the traditional disciplines and professional schools (p. 6).”

Without question, intercollegiate athletics has its share of problems. I know of these problems having worked within the Department of Athletics at four uniquely different Division I institutions (Long Beach State, Ohio State, Harvard, and Southern Illinois University). Ironically, all of the institutions I have been involved with steadfastly believe in the principles of amateurism and building character through athletics. All have specific policies to ensure compliance with gender equity (Title IX), and all have received large financial donations from several prominent alumni. Yes, problems exist in intercollegiate athletics, and yes, reform is necessary and is being instituted systemically with success by the NCAA, following several recommendations from faculty and presidents alike. I would like to see more faculty members garner solutions to intercollegiate athletic issues rather than comment on the same preconceived problems.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 1, 2006, p. 53-55
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 11957, Date Accessed: 12/3/2021 7:37:06 AM

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About the Author
  • Christian Spears
    Southern Illinois University
    E-mail Author
    CHRISTIAN SPEARS is the Assistant Athletic Director at Southern Illinois University. He has held similiar positions in the Athletic Departments at Harvard University, The Ohio State University and Long Beach State University. Christian graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Political Science, he has a Master's Degree in Public Policy and Administration from California State University, Long Beach and a Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University, Mortiz College of Law.
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