Sunday, March 14, 2010

Money Talks, even in Amateurism

Injustice and Bias in the NCAA

During my college career I’ve been uncharacteristically vocal about all the things around me that I felt weren’t how they “should be.” I’m sure at one time or another it bugged you and I apologize. Now, I could list various instances in which the track or xc program has drawn the short end of the stick throughout the years. It seems to happen too often and in various ways which I can’t really figure out. Oh, and don’t get me started on the inexplicable fact that how well a team performs is in no way correlated to the support that it receives. That would just cause pages of ranting.

Well…even more pages of ranting.

In fact, prepare yourself for a few of those right now.

(don’t act like you didn’t see this coming)

As the title suggests, the scope of this post will not be restricted to SUU but rather to the entire NCAA and across various disciplines. I’m not really sure about how this issue was brought to my attention but over a few years I realized that something wasn’t how it should be. Now before somebody screams the classic “LIFE isn’t fair, Nate!” line at the screen at some point while reading this, take a minute to read it all and just see what I’m talking about then you tell me I don’t have cause for complaint.

The NCAA is a system that is built on the idea that it provides a home for student-athletes to compete during their schooling in amateur sports. In this environment of proposed amateurism, profit should not have any place in the minds of the administrators if their purpose truly is for the benefit of the student-athletes. In fact many have claimed that the NCAA uses athletes like unto slave labor, producing money for the institutions without rightly compensating the athletes. With this small intro I proceed to my question: why does football get more support than track and/or xc at the NCAA level?

Now on what basis am I making the assumption that they truly get more support? I’m getting to it. Not even going into the fact that football receives unequal support nationwide with their pep rallies, massive tailgate parties, huge advertising campaigns and extravagant half-time shows, I’m only going to touch on simple figures that are easily compared. I’m talking scholarship numbers.

I don’t personally have a lot of room to complain as I’ve been extremely blessed to have received support throughout my years of study with an athletic scholarship. But I’m a team player and I’ve got my many teammates’ backs that are doing it for free when others of different sports are given much more not because of their athletic proficiency but for simply choosing the more “popular” sport.

One may argue that since there is more participation in high school football there should be more scholarships available to the disproportionate number of participants and I entirely agree with this position. In fact, I have the most recent participation figures right here (pulls out his briefcase). Yes, football is the most popular men’s sport by participation with track and field following in second.

  1. Football – 1,112,303

  2. Track and Field (Outdoor) - 558,007 (total 789,459 w/xc)

  3. Basketball -545,145

  4. Baseball - 473,184

  5. Soccer - 383,824

  6. Wrestling - 267,378

  7. Cross Country - 231,452

  8. Tennis - 157,165

  9. Golf - 157,062

  10. Swimming and Diving - 130,182

Now logic dictates that in an unbiased system (as the NCAA has tried to create with rules like the famous Title IX requiring even scholarships and participation between men’s and women’s sports) if there are 1.4 high school football players for every runner/thrower/jumper then there should be 1.4 scholarships available for football for every track scholarship. Once again, all of this is on the premise that the NCAA actually cares about its student-athletes equally, regardless of sport. You’re probably wondering, “well, how many scholarships are available?” Here’s the NCAA-mandated limits on scholarship by sport (men):

  • Baseball Scholarships: 11.7
  • Basketball Scholarships: 13
  • Cross Country, Indoor & Outdoor Track and Field Scholarships: 12.6
  • Football Scholarships: 85
  • Golf Scholarships: 4.5
  • Gymnastics Scholarships: 6.3
  • Ice Hockey Scholarships: 18
  • Lacrosse Scholarships: 12.6
  • Soccer Scholarships: 9.9
  • Swimming and Diving Scholarships: 9.9
  • Tennis Scholarships: 4.5
  • Water Polo Scholarships: 4.5
  • Wrestling Scholarships: 9.9

Ok, let me clarify. These are full scholarships we’re talking about, including housing, books, food, and tuition. There are a maximum 12.6 scholarships available for the 3 sports of cross-country, indoor track and outdoor track combined (now girls, you have it better, you get 18 scholarships for some reason, don’t ask me why). There are 85 available for football. 85!!! I’m hoping you’re seeing my point here. That’s a 6.7:1 ratio on scholarships from football to track/xc despite a 1.4:1 ratio on participation. It’s a complete joke and indisputably biased.

In fact, even our beloved Senator Hatch got in on the discussion when he said:

I – and many others – are concerned that all this college football money is turning college sports into nothing more than a minor league for pro football rather than a legitimate educational activity for student athletes.

- Senator Orrin G. Hatch, speaking at the Senate Committee on the Judiciary Hearing

Now the critical reader might recognize that sports like basketball must also be getting the same treatment as track since their high school participation and scholarship limit are similar to those of track/xc, right? To further my point (and to not make football the only bad guy) let’s see what the participation numbers are in the NCAA and see if the number of scholarships line up a little better.

Here are the NCAA team-size averages by sport:

  • Football - 108.7
  • Track/XC - 53.6
  • Basketball 15.6

If this is the average size of each team in the NCAA, what is the ratio of scholarships per athlete already on the team?

  • Football .78 per athlete
  • Track/XC .24 per athlete
  • Basketball .83 per athlete

According to the data provided by the NCAA basketball is even more favored than football! Similar figures can be found in other sports like ice hockey with 18 scholarships. How many players can even fit on the bench in hockey??

By way of conclusion, I want to make a point of something that really bothers me amidst all of this. Using NFL figures, there maximum number of active players on an NFL roster is 53. I hope I don’t have to point this out, but there are upwards of 30 football players on a football team that don’t even touch the field in a game. I’ve had lots of friends that give everything they have on the track, killing themselves with no recompense because they love the sport and want to chase a dream. I see them trying to work a job, going full-time to stay eligible all while meeting the travelling and practice demands of their sport. It depresses me to know that football players are riding the bench game after game and getting it all paid for while the majority of scoring athletes on my team are paying for everything. Is the education of a football (or basketball) player more valuable than that of a runner? In the land of Title IX and Affirmative Action, where is the equality!? It’s not about equality or amateurism in the NCAA, it’s about money. End of story.

Just to add a little fuel to the fire, read this story I found on ESPN.com:


They want even more. You see why I’m not a fan?

Monday, January 18, 2010


So, I decided that for every trip we go on for track this year, I’m going to write a blog post about something that’s been on my mind. I think that the majority of the time it will turn out like this one, with no specific direction or purpose other than a fulfillment of a goal. I don’t even know what I want to write about right now…

Generally speaking, I sit down and write about something that is occupying my mind and want to get off my chest. So, I thinking about it for a minute I realized that something that has been on my mind a bit lately: earthquakes. Yep. I’ve talked to a few people about this but I figured I’d reiterate my point to everyone (all the millions of people who read this thing).

Ever since my first earthquake happened a week or so ago, I have been more aware of their occurrences. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like there’s been a lot of them lately, like more than normal. I’m going to go into a little “apocalyptic” moment here, so don’t judge me.

Like I said, we had a little 4.1 earthquake here in Cedar City about a week ago while I was in the ELC just wasting some time before my next class. The building is pretty old and there’s been construction going in there the past year or so and so when the building started shaking and that noise happened, at first I attributed it to the more probable option of it being construction. Then, of course, I posted on Facebook, “Was that an earthquake?” Within a minute or so I got a link to the UofU’s seismograph site where it had measured our earthquake at a 4.1. I thought I was pretty freakin cool because I was now officially an earthquake survivor. Of course, the curiosity didn’t stop there. As soon as I saw all the other little earthquakes on the map, I began looking for more maps and data.

Fast forward a few days later.
I was online again and there was a thread on the ‘stat about the sea lions in San Francisco and how they had just randomly left overnight. As I read the article and the quotes from the biologists, it felt like I was in a movie for a second reading how “they just disappeared!” It was kinda eerie, not gonna lie. They were confused as to what had caused them to leave so suddenly like that but nobody really had a solid explanation. A few people, mostly seen as extremists, were citing the ’89 San Francisco quake and how they had done the same thing right before it struck. A few days later after the sea lions disappeared this time, a 6.9 quake hit just off the shore of northern California.

Fast forward a few more days.

Front page of Yahoo has the headline of “7.x Earthquake rocks Haiti.” I was like, wtf?? How many earthquakes are gonna happen? As I was driving back from practice that day, it dawned on me that I was super bummed out for some reason. I couldn’t really figure it out but then I realized that this Haiti thing was really bothering me. They had a headline a little later about there being possibly 100,000 people dead. That is what I think really was bothering me.

As I went to bed, I started thinking of it all again, and the Bible verse from Matthew popped into my head from “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” (Matt 24:7) I then began thinking, “I wonder if the earthquake frequency really has been increasing or is it just an increase in my own awareness...” I jumped right back out of bed and true to the super nerd that I am, jumped on my computer for some research. A few google searches later looking for info, I stumbled on the USGS site with historical earthquake data since the 80’s. They mostly just had bar graphs of each year but I noticed that there was a significant increase in large earthquakes over the past three decades. All that info did was stoke the fire and I became all the more curious. So, I kept on searching and found a site that had gathered info from 1860 to the present. As I read the article and looked over the graphs, the info I was searching for became very easy to see. The increase in earthquake frequency since the mid-19th century was surprisingly large. I thought it would have been a little more subtle than that, especially for a geological trend which I would assume would subscribe to a scale of millions of years, not tens of years.

Needless to say, my suspicions were confirmed and my curiosity satisfied and I went to bed. I’ve been pondering on the subject for a few days now and the spiritual ramifications of these findings are substantial (not saying I was the first one to see this, it’s just been more applicable as of late). It feels as though the majority of those that are passively or actively looking for the “signs” are looking for things to be very black and white. In this case, unlike many others, the signs are very distinct and unmistakable. Once again, I’m not trying to be apocalyptic or anything, I’m just pointing it out so do with it as you will.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Photo Book

So I'm kinda pumped that I finished a book that I've been working on for a while based on my fairly recently acquired photography hobby. I called it Record because of the quote I used on the introduction page. The pictures themselves don't have a whole lot of cohesiveness but the purpose of the book is to give the readers a view into the mind of the photographer himself. Books with just photography generally are open to interpretation but with no answers. I was hoping that with my book people were able to draw their own conclusions but then also see the original point of view as well. I'm going to start working on some other books soon with more of a focus on a geographic location. Feel free to browse the pages (there's only 20 pages) and if so inclined, the website allows you to buy one as well!

By Nate Houle

Saturday, December 5, 2009

My thoughts on Web 2.0 (Just ignore this- CSIS assignment)

Web 2.0 is an interesting and almost tangible change that has occurred in the way that the internet is utilized. The concept of being a user-defined content platform not only creates a more interactive population but on the other hand, can produce infinitesimal amounts of "junk" information that could easily be inaccurate (see professors disallowing Wikipedia as a credible source). In the case of non-credible sources, I believe that the pros outweigh the cons and therefore the Web 2.0 movement is a step in the positive direction. The only true concern I see is not The Matrix prophecy of machines becoming like men but instead men becoming the machines with no living breathing society to speak of.

Link to a video explaining here

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

BYU Athletics

Question: If BYU athletics creates hate for the school in those not affiliated with the school, is it bad for the church, either directly or indirectly?

Reason: I have to watch what I say about the school and athletic programs because I fear tarnishing my own faith indirectly. I know many people that aren't LDS and because of rivalries and other reasons do not like BYU in the slightest and, coincidentally or not, have a similar opinion of the church itself.

This was going to be a lengthy article with quotes, examples, and reasoning but it came across as if I was superimposing my opinion over that of a sustained leader and so I withheld any proposal or recommendation.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What does this mean to you?

I've read this scripture, and ones like it, on numerous occasions, but it seems to be bypassed quite often. I came across it again in church a week or so ago and it once again caught my attention. I don't want to write any opinion on the subject, I just want to hear what most think it means.

From Doctrine & Covenants 59:

"15 And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is a sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance-"

Please discuss

Monday, March 16, 2009

Research Project

One of the great aspects of this life is that each and every person has their own take on it. Perspective is an interesting thing because you never know exactly how another views different things. For example, who hasn't wondered when looking at a red object and thought, "everyone calls the color of this 'red' but does everyone actually see the same thing?" With this interlude, I am brought to a story.

The other day, Cam, Nigel and I were driving home from Wal-Mart and we were debating on the degree of hotness of some famous person. I don't remember who. But, for the story's sake, you need to know that Nigel is notorius for being the one with having the most, how can I say it, "liberal" view of beauty. I'm known as the one is extremely strict on the same and Cam is just somewhere in the middle. Finally, at this moment in the car, we decided that something needed to be done to quantify these levels to more accurately compare ourselves. We needed some kind of empirical evidence.

A plan was formulated and a study was created. We decided that we needed to somehow obtain a mean value for a designated, similar population. We figured the best way for this was to all sit at the same location with a piece of paper, and on the left side of it, the numbers 10 through 1 in descending order. Haha, ok, don't judge me, this is purely scientific I swear. We needed a high-traffic area as to obtain a large sample size to maintain a high statistical power. We went and sat on a bench above the ELC and observed the passing females verifying that all three of us observed the same people. Subjects ranged anywhere from an estimated 70 to 18 years old. After a period of 45 minutes, I had to go to a class, so the study was concluded. Sample size was about 75. Results were as follows:

Nate's average: 4.36
Cam's average: 4.67
Nigel's average: 5.09


So, after results were compiled, turns out that we were right in that Nigel had the most liberal view and I had the strictest. Note, however, that when we reached the lower range of the scale, seems that I was more cautious to issue a rating of 2 or below when Nigel was the opposite.

Who said you never apply what you learn in school? ;)