Youngstown State University’s football team played its first playoff game in 10 years on Saturday to a crowd of a meager 5,322.
YSU shells out just under $4 million a year funding the football program to have an attendance that measured about half of the 2006 playoff attendance.
The university justifies spending this much money on sports by saying that it draws in alumni and the local community, but it seems as though alumni and the local community care about the record of Ursuline and Mooney more than they do about the university.
YSU’s sports program isn’t the top of their league and attendance to any sort of sport is minimal. So when a university sponsored program actually does well, you’d expect the community to swell with pride and storm the stadium, beers in hand.
Instead, locals fled to the bars to watch the Ohio State vs. Michigan game, which actually concluded one hour before the beginning of the YSU game on Saturday.
Even if people wanted to watch the YSU playoff game on a local television station after they wandered back home from the bar, they can’t. ESPN bought all the video rights to college playoff games.
So if members of the community don’t come to the one thing that YSU thinks is drawing them in, why is the university spending all this money to please a fraction of its students or alumni?
A more reasonable idea would be to cut down on spending in sports — shut off the lights of the stadium when it’s not in use, don’t buy expensive name brand sweatsuits for the teams or end the cell phone plans that coaches get for free.
The university is hurting in ways that actively impact a majority of its students. Faculty members are being laid off, bathrooms aren’t always accessible to disabled students, buildings are falling apart and textbook prices are putting students hundreds of dollars in debt.
More conservative spending would allow the university to put money where it needs to be put — back into the school via professors’ salaries, into better buildings and new computers and software.
Now the community, the alumni and the current students need to make a decision. Either show up and support YSU’s sports teams while they’re doing well or support the reform of YSU’s athletics budget.
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