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Auchter's Art: Big Ten, big money

John Auchter
For Michigan Radio

Full disclosure: I definitely contribute to the ludicrous amount of money that gets poured into college sports. I like watching games. And not just football and basketball. Volleyball, softball, and even track & field are fun to watch, too.

So I have no grounds for righteous indignation in pointing out that the Big Ten adding UCLA and USC (and, soon, other schools) is all about the money. Of course it's about the money. There is lots of it, a tremendous possibility of acquiring more, and that's exactly what the Big Ten and its (more than 10) universities are trying to do. That's fine. But, also, it is ridiculous.

Take a step back and consider the original idea of college athletics. They were sort of an extra perk that provided balance to the academic life of the students and helped promote the university (sometimes even in that order!).

Now marvel at how it has evolved into what we have now — how at the top level, it has somehow turned into a feeding frenzy between the Big Ten and its mortal enemy, the Southeastern Conference. A crazed race to claim as many schools as possible to grow grow grow, geography and all other considerations be damned.

Is this really the best plan? I mean, has anybody even thought about the travel costs of, say, the Rutgers track and field teams going to UCLA for a meet? Ah, it's probably just a rounding error compared to the revenue potential of the Los Angeles TV market. And I'll probably end up watching the meet on the Big Ten Network.

John Auchter is a freelance political cartoonist. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management, or its license holder, the University of Michigan.

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganPublic.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com.
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