I have always been a sports junkie so maybe my opinion is biased, but I have grown tired of complaints and whining about the attention and money that athletics garner at this university.
I lost count of how many instructors complained about budget cuts while we built the G.I.S.C. and a Spring Sports Complex. Western’s investment into those projects was minimal and the result of a student approved fee, the Chiefs and proactive people. Thanks, in large part to the Max Experience fee and the $5.5 million bond it funds, we got the Chiefs. Thanks to the Chiefs, we got a $3 million Spring Sports Complex, an improved football stadium, and a $10 million indoor facility that will pay for itself and then some.
Western got all of that for $1.2 million in student fees. I am one of multiple students that found summer work through training camp. I was also one of several that were fortunate enough to secure an internship with the Chiefs. Without a proactive Athletic Director that got more attention for an arrest than the money and positive attention he brought to Western, none of us would have had those once in a lifetime opportunities.
If you look at it in the most negative sense, the Max fee is an athletic tax. What other tax allows everyone that pays it to, at their discretion; reap the benefits of the tax? Any student that paid a Max fee can benefit directly from what it provides.
What other student fee has brought national attention to our campus and benefited students and the community? The $105 I paid this semester because three of my classes were in computer labs did not get me an internship. Did the $300 full-time students pay yearly for Facilities Access generate over $13 million in facility improvements in one year? What exposure, job opportunities and revenue came from the $100 full-time students pay a year in SGA fees?
A full-time student pays $120 for Max over a school year. If you never took advantage of the concessions or bringing family members to games with Max, you could get your money back in 12 games. If you don’t have time to make it to 12 games over the course of the year, you probably don’t have time to be a full-time student.
If you can’t go to games or just aren’t interested then look at what improved athletic facilities do for a university. When the athletic department went to students and asked them what they could do, the students said that athletic facilities played a major role in their college choice. It’s also no secret, that successful athletics attract more private donations to universities and increase exposure. Do you think many employers in Kansas City knew about Northwest Missouri State before their football team started popping up on ESPN every year?
Like it or not, high-quality athletics brings more money to a university, which benefits everyone. If sports are good and the facilities are attractive, more people want to donate and more students want to attend. Ask officials at MU, who saw their biggest increase in applications ever after the success of the 2007 football team, what athletics can do for a university. I bet none of them are whining.