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AFTERWORD Texas Christian University Fort Worth RECENT events around the Southwest Conference have indicated some possible problems with priorities. TCU, as even the national media have reported, represents no exception to this. Indeed, it is a trend which would appear to characterize universities across the country that have drifted into the semi-professional football business. I don’t care much about football. I never have. It’s not that I have some moral or social beef with it, you understand. I’m just not much of a watcher. I seem to lack the basic “fan” mentality. So all the bitching and moaning that’s been going on around here recently has struck me as irrelevant to anything really important since, theoretically at least, this is an academic institution that happens to have a football program and not vice versa. What is the big deal after all about seven kids who are not being allowed to play with the other children because they were bad? Is this really the end of Western Civilization as we know it? Indeed, it would seem so if one were listening to many recent conversations on campus or paying any attention to the local media. Reading last Sunday’s Star-Telegram, for example, I made my way through some thirty pages largely devoted to the problems of the Wacker children before I chanced upon a tiny little article which informed me that one of my colleagues on the faculty had been brutally murdered. Clearly the editor of the newspaper believed that the readers would be interested in knowing every detail about the tragedy that befell the Hornfrogs before they spent any time contemplating the senseless slaying of 0. Ross Bush. But how could this be? How could a man’s death be less important news than the temporary interruption of six Greg Franzwa teaches philosophy at Texas Christian University. boys’ rights to play a game? The answer to this question, as my friend the hard-headed realist pointed out to me on Monday, is Money. Any damage to the football program, he assured me, will surely result in a measurable decrease in future revenues to the university from both tuitions and alumni donations. Whereas the death of a geography professor will have no such consequences. The editor presumably another hard-headed realist made a decision which reflected the long-term financial interests of the TCU community. And this, my friend assured me, is what is important to the readers of the newspaper in the Town of Cows. Though he was very sorry about Ross Bush and I know he was facts are facts. These are the ’80s the decade of the private sector. And it happens to be a fact of this part of that sector that football is perceived as more important than geography. The image and consequent finances of the university are clearly threatened more seriously by the problems of the athletic department than they are by the demise of Ross Bush and the geography program. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so. But it is. The university decided some time ago that geography did not have a future at TCU. The program would terminate when Ross retired. Ross didn’t like that idea and argued with anyone who would listen that geography had a place in a university curriculum. He lost the official argument for several reasons. First, there is no reason to believe that a significant number of students would ever be attracted to TCU by its geography department, no matter what investment was made in it. And second, enrollment figures indicate that geography has been of little interest to the student body over the past few years. And, since Ross was the geography department, these figures also indicated his popularity with students. There are in fact a few of them who count him among the best teachers of their experience, precisely because he cut them so little slack. But most found him too demanding, and not sufficiently appreciative of their personal problems. Some of them banded together to express their feelings about him in a student poll a few years back. They didn’t like his attitude. And why should they? He did not perceive the quality of the student body to be improving over time, and he spoke of it frequently. Thus geography was a program without a future at TCU. It attracted no students and it made no money. And it surely was not generating alumni contributions. Football, on the other hand, attracts students as well as alumni support. And the media will make a significant contribution for the right to broadcast football, showing no similar interest in geography. In short, the market has spoken on this particular alternative. Geography is gone and football is here. Yet, not being a hard-headed realist, I’m unsure whether this result is for the best. To begin with, I’m not sure that I want classes full of people who were attracted to this university by a winning football team. Secondly, it’s not clear to me that the university is benefited by the “input” of alumni whose support is contingent upon TCU’s standing in the Southwest Conference. I don’t expect the students of the ’80s to come to college hungry for geography or philosophy. Indeed I cannot even imagine philosophers or geographers telling vice-chancellors that unless they have more money they won’t be able to process all the new majors. Only a very few are seriously attracted to such arcane pursuits. But the rest, it would seem, might be expected to have at least a vague desire for mental improvement. And this is not a characteristic I have personally found to correlate strongly with an overwhelming interest in football. And so as a determining criterion for attracting students it seems to me that love of football is an unfortunate choice. Secondly, it would seem obvious from recent events that courting the donations of alumni footballers may result in rather unhappy influences in the program. Alumni who base their support on the record of the team would appear to include a group who believe it best to get involved with the team a group who have had some good old hard-headed realist ideas about what makes for success. Do we really need these people? And is it really the case that a significant portion of the alumni support the The Geography of College Football By Greg Franzwa 22 DECEMBER 6, 1985