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Come for the sports, stay for the drama

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader


When I thought about going to grad school, there were some questions to be considered? What school had the program I wanted? Will the school pay attention to my academic needs? Will the school help me to be all that I can be? Would I learn in a diverse environment, where I would be able to speak freely in super-long sentences and hope that my instructors and peers would not fall asleep listening to my experiences as a Puerto Rican-German American, and as a writer, in the hopes I could both educate them and be educated in return, plus spread my creative wings a little bit both in the classroom and on paper?

No. Of course not. The first thing on my mind was, “wouldn’t it be great if I got to attend a school that was Division I in athletics?”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. No, I didn’t think about that either. I can’t remember when IPFW became Division I, and I am not sure if it’s in the Big 10, Big 11, Corn State Colleges League, or whatever. I DO remember chuckling a bit when I found out IPFW was D1. “Really?” I thought. “I guess this means we’ll be able to watch IPFW on television now.” And just this past weekend, I did. IPFW against Austin Peay, a school even I’ve heard of, despite not being a basketball fan. One of my superiors was in the break room, and commented on the lack of spectators. “You’d think a team that beat IU would have more people watching.” Huh? My thoughts exactly. I mean, we have Brian “Bleach Boy” Blackwell, for Christ’s sake!

I didn’t come for the athletics, and I didn’t come for the giant gym, and I didn’t come for the fitness center. I reluctantly chose IPFW because I wanted a master’s degree. Reluctantly, because my bachelor’s was at St. Francis College, or, as it seems to be now, “Fort Wayne’s Mini Notre Dame” and I loved the small classes and my English professors, who wore jackets and dress shirts and ties. It was a bit of a culture shock my first semester at IPFW to encounter a professor who wore jeans, went barefoot, and said “f—“ in class.

And how the times have changed. When I went to St. Francis, it seemed on the verge of closing. I remember there being a vote of “no confidence” by the faculty. Now, it’s Notre Dame on the three rivers with a football team, AND stadium, AND enlarging of the art department, AND purchasing of the Scottish Rite Temple. St. Francis—excuse me--the University of Saint Francis seems booming, while IPFW is … well …

Programs and departments are disappearing, and the weird thing is, they weren’t expensive to run in the first place. Women’s Studies (which has been saved) was a self-supporting department. So why would you eliminate programs that either support themselves, or don’t cost that much to begin with? If you really want to save money (and you knew this was coming, didn’t you?) reevaluate the worth of athletics and maybe not pay certain athletic staffers a yearly amount that currently would take me seven years to earn, if not more. Yes, we have student athletes on campus, but how many students go to college to play sports? I’m willing to bet it’s a very small percentage as compared with the rest of the student body. What is more important? Having a world-class facility where graduates feel their time was spent wisely, and they got to participate in things they might not have done, and go on to decent jobs or advanced degrees, or being able to boast having a Division I school, where the seats are not filled, even after upsetting basketball king IU and watching a student do a Jackass (the television show) type stunt?
Sports can empower, and foster teamwork, and watching sports is like watching mini wars for the spectators, but should programs and departments be sacrificed for them? Perhaps if the sports programs were self-supporting, either through alumni, booster clubs, or ticket sales, that’s one thing. But eliminating learning options for students, even Women’s Studies, (yes, gentlemen, I know three women who majored in that, and they were/are gainfully employed), isn’t right either. Maybe colleges are leaning away from majors which seem “pointless”, like Philosophy and German, but there ARE people out there who want to study them. Shouldn’t they be able to earn a degree in it if they want to?

Some people would say “no.” And they are probably the same people who drew penises on the door of the Women’s Studies department the day after Trump was elected. Stay classy, IPFW men!

So yeah, I didn’t come for the sports, but I’m staying for the drama (and I’ve got some of my own that’s school related too, but you won’t see any of THAT in print).

A few years ago, I felt that community colleges were going to rise up and be an important player in higher education here in America. If anyone from Ivy Tech is listening, I would advise beefing up the foreign language department, and maybe have some Philosophy and Women’s Studies certificate programs as well. But I wouldn’t worry about athletics. With the working adults going back to school, and taking care of their families, ain’t nobody got time for that.

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.