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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol 7, No. 5 June 21, 1944

Football Scholars

Football Scholars

The cult of football in the big American Universities is difficult to understand in this country. I was talking recently to "a passing foreign notability" who informed me that he had held a "Football Scholarship" to one of the largest Universities of the States. He told me how coaches were paid 20,000 dollars a year (average professor, 4,000 or 5,000), how the high schools were visited, and outstanding players of football, baseball, basketball, etc., were picked out, and paid what seemed about the equivalent of £10 a week to play for the College. He himself had profited by the opportunity to gain an education, but the only necessity was to keep terms. There are also many, more academic, scholarships open, but these did not seem on quite such generous terms as the athletic ones.

I asked him why such large sums were lavished on sport. He said it was to help advertise the name of the university. Finally I realised what the reason was. Many of the American Universities depend financially on the gate money taken at the big matches. Considering that 75,000 people may pay about a pound each to see a big college match, it can be seen how important it is for the university to have a good team that will draw big crowds. Of course there are many universities that are so heavily endowed that they can live solely on the income of their own property, but my friend told me that the others would fold up tomorrow if football were cut out. In fact, many are in difficult straits at the moment, as the war has badly affected supplies of footballers.

All this seemed rather extraordinary to me, as if V.U.C. had set up a racing stables, or O.U. its own expensive hospital. Has the idea ever been suggested to the Senate? Mightn't it be a little more profitable than trying to drag extra fees from penurious students?