From Our Readers

UMass Football Program: Touchdown or Fumble?


Great article [“False Start: UMass struggles to find its place in upper division football,” December 12, 2013)!

Just something to think about for the future:

While I respect the USAToday numbers, they have a major flaw, as does most data coming from the NCAA: they don’t count expenses such as stadium building and maintenance and marketing that is not done specifically by the Athletic Department. One of the reasons I think [UMass’] Ad Hoc report is a step ahead of the usual calculations is that we insisted the AD produce numbers on:

—gender scholarships (required because of the increase in football scholarships)

—marketing (they now report all marketing—some spent out of the athletic department budget and some out of the University Relations office

—the stadium. Many of the boosters insist that the NCAA doesn’t count football stadiums in the football budget. They simply want to ignore one of the largest expenses associated with this sport. We have insisted that the press box—required by the Middle Atlantic Conference—and the “football training facility” actually count as, well, a football expense! Sometimes these discussions are in never-never-land: “Yes, it’s for football, but we don’t count it.”

When those big schools brag about “making money,” it is largely fictitious. It is of course true that those few big schools do bring in a lot of money. But I would bet if they had to factor in the full costs they incur on the campus, those profits would disappear.

Penn State is yet another case: they say they have a “profit,” but that conveniently ignores the $100 million they are paying for the despicable behavior of one of their coaches. That erases the profits for a decade.


Cheers for Obamacare


Tom Vannah and I are basically on the same page with regards to what’s needed for better health care policy, but I find the tone of this article [“No Cheers for Obamacare,” December 5, 2013] objectionable. Let us try to be charitable and enouraging towards an effort that has managed to get started despite almost insurmountable odds, rather than harshly condemning its fragile beginnings.

Yes, it is highly flawed, so let us draw a metaphor for the circumstances under which it has been born: You desire to build a large house for the homeless—not a temporary emergency shelter, a real home within which the lives of those who have not been given a fair chance can flourish. As you try to build it, a gang of hooligans comes along, blindfolds you, ties heavy weights to both your arms, ties your legs together, comes to the job site every night to steal tools and materials and destroy the work you did the previous day. What’s worse, said gang of hooligans is quite wealthy from the proceeds of previous crimes, and so is able to influence most of your local newspapers, radio and TV stations to publish completely false and misleading scare stories about the home you’re attempting to build, turning against you the very neighbors who should be supporting you. Somehow, against all of these odds, something gets built. It’s a mere shadow of what was planned, and in the scramble to get anything built at all, not enough attention was paid to how it would be opened and administered—all made more difficult by the fact that all the opposition forced you to re-plan constantly. So is the end result disappointing? Absolutely. Should we nonetheless cheer the builders and give them our full support towards building a better house? Absolutely.

Author: Advocate readers

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