Not everyone is in support of bringing back Titan Football. Some may argue that the money it will take to resurrect the currently defunct program would be better spent on current academic programs. Besides, Cal State Fullerton is an institution of higher learning. The advancement of academic principles should be priority No. 1, right?
A few months ago, Jane Shaw of the John William Pope Center, wrote an opinion piece regarding UNC Charlotte’s decision to revive their football program. Many of the same arguments opposing Charlotte bringing back football are the same cries we hear out in Fullerton. In a nutshell, Shaw argues that a successful football program can indeed raise the level of academic reputation. Here are a few highlights:
Schools that have been around for many years (especially the Ivies, which are centuries old) are well ahead in the reputation game. Because of the difficulty of measuring quality and because reputations are entrenched by time, those reputations are extremely durable, even if they are based on inaccurate information. Upstarts are always trying to catch up.
To break into the circle of eminent institutions, a school must triumph in a mysterious competition that involves the opinions of peers (who funnel their views into the U.S. News rankings), national publicity, and evidence of having money (whether from an endowment or state coffers).
So, will a football team contribute to the process of building UNC-Charlotteâ€™s reputation, bringing it up from the also-ran level where it appears to be now? Given enough timeâ€”and [Chancellor] Dubois is planning for the next 25 years, not the next fiveâ€”Dubois bets that it will.
In fact, Dubois not only argues that it will improve UNC-Charlotteâ€™s reputation, he specifically stated that a football team will boost the academic reputation of UNC-Charlotte.
â€œWithin North Carolina, does anyone doubt that the excellent institutional and academic reputations enjoyed by Chapel Hill, N.C. State, Wake Forest, and Duke have been strengthened by the prestige of their athletic programs?â€ he asked. He even cited research by two Charlotte faculty members confirming that a strong football program provides â€œmeasurable benefits to the academic reputation of a participating university.â€
Odd as this seems, it is not entirely unrealistic. As long as we donâ€™t know what actual education is going on (and even research is difficult to evaluate), then academic reputation depends on this smoke-and-mirrors competition that could be influenced by almost anything.
Read Shaw’s entire article: It’s All about Reputation
So in essence the argument could be made that in order for Cal State Fullerton to compete with the likes of USC and UCLA or even San Diego State or Fresno State academically, Fullerton needs to bring back football. Of course if the Fullerton team is revived it would not compete on the same athletic level of the previously mentioned schools. By having football, the ground work is there to help improve academic reputation via on-field success.
No matter your opinion on the return of the UNC Charlotte program or the Cal State Fullerton Football team, you have to admit that human beings are inherently a competitive species. Whether it is sports, academics or music, people will always strive to separate themselves from others and demonstrate who is better at a particular task. If colleges didn’t have sports, schools would compete for reputation in theater, arts, marching bands or scientific research.
Then again, when is the last time 70,000 people showed up and paid to see a college student perform a science experiment?