Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Major in Football- Jim Harbaugh

Make College  Relevant Jim Harbaugh

By and large, Jim Harbaugh’s 2015 recruiting class has been selected. Criticism recently has been directed at both universities and the student- athlete. I prefer to call them athletic students. It’s been reported that football players can spend up to 60 hours a week with their sport. Also, graduation rates for Division I football and men’s basketball players hover around 50%. Recently, the University of North Carolina has been in news related to their academic fraud. And that’s not all, because it’s believed that there are about 20 other colleges being investigated by the NCAA on suspicion of academic fraud.

So let’s face reality. For some athletes, the motivation is about their sport, while for others, the motivation to attend college is about their sport and a quality education. There is often criticism that the courses taken in college often have little resemblance to life in the real world and especially to the job market. So why not create a football and/or basketball major to better assist the athletes during and after college? Make college academics more concrete and realistic.

For instance, that doesn’t mean eliminating the first two years of traditional college classes like freshman English, introductory sociology, math, etc. But just think of relevant classes such as business law. A business law class can focus on contracts, contract negotiation, various rules pertaining to the University, a professional team’s code of conduct, etc. A course in sport economics covering tax implications, investment options, choosing agents, value to community and college etc.; a class in philosophy/ ethics, covering the value of sports, giving back to community, role of citizenship etc.; learning about the history and sociology of sports [on average, an NFL career is roughly three years], development of football, sports in Europe, sports in the United States, etc. are only a few ideas of college courses to include in a football major.

Not forgetting about science, courses in kinesiology, exercise science, nutrition, and rehabilitation would also be pertinent. The athlete would learn skeletal structure, ligaments and tendons; philosophies of training, fast, and slow twitch muscles; rest/ tapering; about hydration; about injuries common to their sport. [Concussions] and how these injuries are treated as well as prognosis. Classes in psychology and sociology, and learning about motivation, drive, will, competition, teamwork, learning, leadership and group dynamics would be  pertinent and appropriate as well.

Just think of what the athletic student would be learning. In addition to the skills attained. An exposure to a wide variety of different careers along with a curriculum that makes sense to athletes could be a worthwhile goal. I would guess that classroom motivation along with graduation rates would improve.

I know that Jim Harbaugh, to say the least, has a lot on his plate at the moment. But I believe because of his influence, he would get the attention of the A.D. and more than likely President Mark Schlissel [Andy Geiger former Ohio State athletic director is in favor of such a plan]. Jim is a tremendous motivator, and great communicator. I put my money on him to be able to influence the thinking at the University of Michigan.

Former Michigan legend Bo Schembechler was outraged at the old rule that a Big Ten team couldn’t go to the Rose Bowl back-to-back years consecutively when he arrived in Michigan. It didn’t take Bo long to change that silly man-made rule. Jim Harbaugh, there’s no commandment that reads “Thou Shall Not Have a Football Major at the University of Michigan.”

Go Blue!

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