It's the great debate again: who's winning, college sports or higher education? For anyone passionate to settle that score, Football U. presents a new direction—that maybe it's time for the two sides to shake hands and call a truce.
J. Douglas Toma makes a case for dialogue and mutual benefits. In short, at some major institutions of learning, academics can learn a thing or two from spectator sports, particularly football, and vice versa.
Still, a lot of people don't see it that way, and the very mention of this subject can start a heated discussion in some circles. Even if you don't pay special attention to college sports you've probably heard the arguments, usually anti-athletic, which run from the dumbing-down of America to the commercialization—hence impoverishment—of everything in our culture.
Toma argues that football underscores the collegiate ideal, and highlights the unique forms in which some institutions express that ideal. He's trying to heal an old wound—the separation of town and gown. Spectator sports do this in part, he believes, by creating a "national brand" that adds distinctiveness to otherwise commonplace campuses. "Teams and games," he writes, "provide a convenient vehicle through which external constituents relate to institutions and thus identify with them—coming to think of the institutions as their own."
Football U. may just breathe life into an old cliché: it's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.
The Name of the Game: Spectator Sports in Institution Building 1
The College Try: The Collegiate Ideal and the Landscape of Intercollegiate Athletics 17
School Colors: The Forms of Institutional Culture 47
Team Spirit: Community and the Substance of Institutional Culture 73
League Standings: The University as National Brand 95
Home Games: Local Involvement in the Life of the American University 127
Loyal Fans: Institutional Identification at State U. 165
The Football School: Institutional Image and Brand Equity 195
Homecoming Weekend: Motivating Institutional Advancement 217
Amateur Ideals and Commercial Realities: Understanding the American University and the Future of College Sports 245
Illustrations following page 150