Saturday, May 13, 2006

TAS: A problem of loyalties

January 20, 1993

I was glancing through one of the campus papers last week when my eyes happened to fall upon a story about the University's plan for a new ID card design.

I am not going to spend time debating whether or not anyone needs a new ID. I am going to spend my time debating the picture on the front--and what lies beneath it.

As luck would have it, the people in the proposed picture are football fans frolicking at Paulson Stadium. So, I believe that I am within my rights to fill up space on the sports page discussing identification cards.

My question to all of you is--Why Football? According to Tom Pafly, Director of Food Services (the department that handles the creation and distribution of ID cards), "We were looking for something that screamed GSU."

Why do we insist on forever linking Georgia Southern with football? Now before you think I'm an idiot, I do know the answer. Otherwise I could never have this job. But forget all that for now.

I realize that the football success has helped to put Statesboro on the map, and I do not begrudge the football staff and players that which they worked hard for, but sometimes I think we go too far.

Consider, if you please: The Eagle mascot has a decidedly football-oriented build. (The only GSU basketball player built like that is Shawn Brown.) The majority of t-shirts on sale in the bookstore have a football theme. The sign on I-16 lists the football championships as vital statistics.

These choices are not arbitrary, so why are they made?

Georgia Southern's motto, which can be found on all the envelopes and letterhead, is Academic Excellence. All schools attempt to flaunt their scholarly achievements but usually what gets talked about is sports.

The story of the week concerning a university is not how they are preparing the next generation to take the reigns of society or about the dedicated professor who spends his or her time enriching minds and broadening horizons but rather focuses upon the coach who has failed to live up to the past.

But it is not football alone--that is just the best example at GSU. College sports has become a billboard filled with flashing lights. As a coach becomes more successful, lights begin to flash and the sign becomes brighter. As the sign becomes brighter, more and more prospective students begin to take notice.

As a result, a coach may be highly dedicated to the welfare of his players and push hard to make sure that they all work hard on the court and in the classroom, but if he doesn't have a winning season, he may not have a prayer.

A university should concern itself first with its primary goal--the education of its students. Athletics is a worthy pursuit, but the vast majority who participate will never have the talent to make any amount of money off of it.

I believe that everyone should take a closer look at their priorities, and if we do, we may all see what lies beneath the new ID.

And so I hope that the next time Georgia Southern University changes our IDs and is searching for something that screams GSU it will be a picture of a graduate with a diploma held high.



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