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Monday, November 20, 2006

Wilhelm & a new variation on technical difficulties

During one stage of my long night of flying back on Sunday (home and in bed by 3:30 am Monday morning and back to work by 7:00!), I had a nice chat with Jeff Wilhelm. He's from Ohio, and is a born again Buckeye fan. How did I carefully traverse a conversation with a Buckeye fan for whom I also have great respect? Let's just say my tongue hurts from the biting...

But seriously, he's a great guy who does good work (You Gotta Be the Book, Reading Don’t Fix No Chevies, etc.); plus he's founded an NWP site at Boise State. If you aren't familiar with him, check out his site.

As for the technical difficulties? I couldn't make a podcast because our conversation occurred during takeoff, when you aren't allowed to turn on electronics. I was forced to hold a conversation in 1990's style! So old school...


Blogger Carrie said...

What a disappointment! I'm happy that you had this conversation, but your blog post appears to be nothing more than bragging about it... What did you discuss?

8:48 AM  
Blogger Nobis said...

Well I do like to name drop.

But seriously, thanks for calling me out--it was a pretty light posting, but we mostly talked about football, which I didn't think all of our blog readers would find interesting. We didn't just talk about The Game, though, because we also discussed its professional implications, so here's a summary:

We agreed that people who get upset about athletics garnering more attention than academics are being a bit shortsighted. For example, Wilhelm is at Boise State University in Idaho, who next to Ohio State boasts the only other undefeated football team in Division 1. He said that some people around the university are bothered by the attention that the team gets, but he responds by clarifying that many of their academic programs may not exist without the financial benefits of the football team's notoriety.

In another example, Brian Curtis' book Every Week a Season follows a series of D1 football coaches, each for a full week. In the chapter on Bobby Bowden and Florida State University, Curtis shares data that shows a direct correlation between the improvement of FSU's football team in the '80s and the school's concurrent jump in enrollement.

In other words, a good football team => more press coverage => wider notoriety => increased enrollment + increased tuition + increased donations + increased grant funding + increased academic and athletic recruitment, etc.

So essentially, he and I agreed that a solid and cleanly run athletics program directly benefits the university as a whole, even when that means that one or two teams get more attention than the others. Is that "right"? Maybe or maybe not, but it is the reality that we have to work with. I hold the same argument for high schools as well. In fact, any institution that is instructing the "whole child" will only benefit from solid extracurricular offerings.

Which of course includes U of M's football team, so you see people, I had sound and defensible reasons for getting excited over a measly football game. :-)

12:19 PM  

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