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Athletics chasing the almighty dollar?

Two recent events by the Athletics Department have prompted this letter.

The first concerns the decision to sell alcohol at athletic events. This is the first time in 45 years teaching at this institution that alcohol is being sold at athletic events. The subheading in The Rider article of Sept. 7 was “Aimed at enhancing fan experience.” My immediate reaction upon hearing this decision was, “What message is athletics sending to the student body and, especially, younger people?” Does drinking alcohol enhance their viewing experience? Alcohol is a depressant on the central nervous system, dulling one’s senses and in no way enhances perception. When watching any performance I personally want to be in control of my faculties to enjoy it to the utmost.

Is the consumption of alcohol a problem in our society? Yes. Alcohol is a gateway drug that causes many problems in America such as death on highways, broken homes, etc., and leads to the consumption of other drugs. Next March, during Spring Break, “binge drinking” by college students will be in the news. Could the approval by Athletics to foster alcohol consumption in any way contribute to this problem? If the answer is yes to even one student, then it is one too many. Or, when an accident occurs after leaving a UTRGV-sponsored athletic event, who will be held liable?

In the article, one student, a psychology major stated “… if you see a sport live and drink, that’s pretty cool.” That is the message that is being sent. I thought all experiences at the university should be positive, about educating students and making correct choices.

In the same article it stated “… it did generate additional revenue.” And therein lies my hypothesis that Athletics is chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of providing a positive image and message to young people. Image does matter!

The second event involves the decision to charge faculty and staff admission to athletic events. Again, in 45 years this has never occurred–why now? As a new university, now should be the time among programs to build bridges among students, faculty, staff and programs–not burn them. There are perks that a university could afford faculty and staff to compensate for the lack of pay raises and low salaries. For example, free admission to athletic events, as is done by other programs such as theater plays, would be a positive gesture. If athletic events were filled to capacity, I could envision charging admission to faculty and staff, to generate revenue. But no venue in my recent memory has been filled to capacity, thus no money is being lost.

In addition, I have spoken to several faculty and staff and upon learning they will be charged admission, all indicated they would not attend nor go out of their way to help athletes with scheduling or other problems. Thus, in the final analysis, the athlete is the loser in terms of fewer spectators and faculty help.

My hypothesis is that Athletics is chasing the almighty dollar at the expense of setting an example for young people regarding alcohol consumption and reaching out to faculty and staff in a familial manner.

Does Athletics charge admission to administrators and its personnel, who are staff, and if not, why not?

–Layne Jorgesen

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