Ban College Football

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Ban College Football

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Corruption and a growing concern for head injury have put college football in the spotlight. Are football programs’ millions in profits exploitation? Or are they still a celebration of amateur sport? Does football’s inherent danger and violence have any place in institutions of higher learning? Or does it provide young men with educational opportunities they would not otherwise have?

  • For the motion


    Buzz Bissinger

    Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist & Author, Friday Night Lights

  • For the motion


    Malcolm Gladwell

    The New Yorker Staff Writer & Author, The Tipping Point.

  • Against the motion


    Tim Green

    Former NFL Defensive End and Football Broadcaster

  • Against the Motion


    Jason Whitlock National Columnist

  • Moderator Image


    John Donvan

    Author and correspondent for ABC News.

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For The Motion

Buzz Bissinger

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist & Author, Friday Night Lights

H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger is among the nation's most honored and distinguished writers. A native of New York City, Bissinger is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Livingston Award, the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award and the National Headliners Award, among others. He also was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. He is the author of four highly acclaimed nonfiction books: Friday Night Lights, A Prayer for the City, Three Nights in August and Shooting Stars written with LeBron James. His fifth book and first memoir, Father's Day: A Journey Into the Mind and Heart of My Extraordinary Son, will be published on May 15th by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Currently a sports columnist for The Daily Beast and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Buzz has reported for some of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers and magazines including The New York Times Magazine and Sports Illustrated.

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Malcolm Gladwell

For The Motion

Malcolm Gladwell

The New Yorker Staff Writer & Author, The Tipping Point

Malcolm Gladwell joined The New Yorker as a staff writer in 1996. He has written on a wide range of topics, including the science of cool hunting, race and sports, physical genius, the concept of moral hazard and health care, and the difference between puzzles and mysteries. Gladwell came to The New Yorker from the Washington Post, where he started as a staff writer in 1987, first reporting for the business section and then on the sciences, later becoming the newspaper’s New York City bureau chief. The author of four books, Galdwell’s The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, and Outliers: The Story of Success, were all #1 New York Times bestsellers. In his 2009 New Yorker article “Offensive Play,” he asked: how different are dogfighting and football?

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Against The Motion

Tim Green

Former NFL Defensive End and Football Broadcaster

Former Atlanta Falcons star defensive end Tim Green has been hailed as the “Renaissance Man” of sports. Recently inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, Green is a New York Times bestselling author, coach and lawyer, specializing in energy law. He played eight seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and has served as an NFL analyst for Fox Sports and a commentator for NPR and Good Morning America. Green has written 26 books, including a series of sports-based novels for young readers. While at Syracuse University, he was an NCAA Top Six Scholar, a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship and was a two-time All-American and National Football Foundation Scholar-Athlete award winner.

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Against The Motion

Jason Whitlock National Columnist.

Jason Whitlock is a national columnist for and an all-sports insider and contributor to FOX Sports Radio. Whitlock was an All-State offensive lineman in high school in Indianapolis and played college football at Ball State University, lettering as an offensive tackle in both 1987 and 1988. He graduated from Ball State in 1990 with a journalism degree. Whitlock's journalism career has had several stops, including the Bloomington Herald Times, The Charlotte Observer, Vibe Magazine, Playboy Magazine, and the Kansas City Star. In 2008, Whitlock was awarded the National Journalism Award from the Scripps Howard Foundation, the first sports writer to win the award.

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    • Comment Link Edward Schaefer Monday, 01 July 2013 00:49 posted by Edward Schaefer

      First, thank you Mr. Bill Morgan and Ms. Edna Bambrick. Both of your comments were relevant to the referenced debate and I found them both intelligent as well. It is not the universities' fault that football is extremely popular with the general public and fans are willing to throw their hard earned money at the colleges in order to enjoy the sport. Irrelevant is the fact that certain professional players have had some physical issues supposedly due to their involvement in professional football. I was a tremendous Junior Seau fan and don't mean to belittle what happened to him but it is irrelevant as he played many pro-bowl years as a professional linebacker for the San Diego Chargers long before he started to show any ill signs of head trauma. Not relatable to his 4 years at USC. Maybe I should have been there to handle this debate! Are you kidding when they said that the NFL did not put any money into the college football game. Absolutely not true in terms of r&d for newer and safer equipment for the game. In matter of fact, they have actually had colleges do some of the work on grants paid by the NFL in the r&d. of safer helmets along with the concussion impact sensor being promoted by the NFL now and utilized by the NCAA on an experimental basis now. It is a shame that our academics in the U.S.A. has suffered and we have sunk from number one in math and science down to number 14 in the world now. I hate this fact also, but to blame football for our issues now is absolutely insane. I also know that there would be no question that football would be put more on the back burner if it could even remotely be associated with some of the issues our academia suffers from these days. If anything football instills millions into the rest of the curriculum including those non money making sports and smaller academic majors. Both division 1 football and basketball also supports standard academic scholarships that otherwise would not be available. Just ask Ms. Donna Shalela (hope I spelled it correctly)about her time at Miami.

    • Comment Link Roxana Friday, 28 June 2013 04:55 posted by Roxana

      I really think JL is starting to affect the popular culture in how society perceives AA males. It wouldn't surprise me to see more college coaches to start looking around to see if there are more talented AA athletes that are under the radar or overlooked. Just like the way major league baseball started looking towards Latin American to find talent. Now, JL certainly has a high level of talent, but I would hope that he isn't just the exception. I'm no atheist, I believe in a cosmic engineer, but my spiritual concepts probably differs a lot from most mainstream Christian thought, although I don't believe it's inimical. I guess I wince at the overt religious stuff because I'm not comfortable with hearing some folks say or imply that it's God's will. To me, that's denying free will and one's personal achievements to say that it's all about God, I just give thanks to Him . Well, God may have given you the talent and abilities it's still up to you to decide what you do with it. In other words, I suppose that I'd like for JL to take some credit and not just deflect it. But who knows? Maybe he's far more spiritually advanced than I am, that maybe in some mystical sense, JL knows he has a purpose and mission in life and he senses intuitively that he's been guided by some unknowable force. And to not acknowledge being blessed would be the lack of gratitude to the universe. I dunno. On the other hand, would he be as likeable if he were egotistical? if he didn't share credit and praise his team mates but was all about me Me ME? If he came across as a self absorbed a-hole? Sorry, didn't mean to get too metaphysical here!

    • Comment Link Momer Friday, 28 June 2013 00:22 posted by Momer

      Again, I'll try to restate it in clear terms despite the fact that most of you are playing a game of denial and misrepresentation. I suspect many of the readers who aren't bothering to post get the point. OK kids here goes. Jeremy Lin's recent success is happening in a sport that is overwhelmingly dominated by black males in a larger society that both views black males as hyper-masculine and hyper-athletic while often viewing Asian males as distinctly less masculine and less athletic than males of other races and in particular black males. If you don't believe me, so be it. Maybe Asian males are in fact viewed as being just as masculine, even as violent or as athletic as males of any other race in America. If so then I am wrong. I am not discussing any male sexual interest in relation to black males. I was referencing FEMALE sexual interest in black males over Asian males and media representations of Asian males as less sexually attractive than black males. Several posters including the blog host have referenced WHITE female interest in relation to Asian males and it's connection to Jeremy Lin. My points have been: 1. Asian interest in Jeremy Lin is based in race. Asians want to see an Asian winning. 2. The image of the Asian male as a nonathletic, less masculine male in America is something that many people hope will be countered by Jeremy Lin's success. 3. The image of the Asian male in America as a sexless nerd who is both often ignored by Asian women, including politically active ones, and ignored by white women as well is something many people hope will be countered by Jeremy Lin's success. That has been referenced on this blog. 3. The image of the black male as a sexless, nonathletic nerdy guy who can't attract women especially white women is not a common stereotype in America. 4. Jeremy Lin is proving himself as an athletic, competitive man in a sport that represents black male athletic success as much as any sport. This is even more true when you consider that unlike football you can more clearly see the race and faces of the players. I see no rational reason to deny this and I suspect the reason for the resistance, denial and misrepresentation has more to do with the fact that the messenger has been characterized as a rice chaser HBD threat etc and therefore there is an emotion reason for the denial, hostility and misrepresentation of my comments.

    • Comment Link Amber Thursday, 06 June 2013 16:26 posted by Amber

      The fact that people would even consider banning college football is ridiculous. If we're talking about the money side, why is college professor getting paid more then actual k-12 teachers? Why is Casey Anthony getting paid for killing her daughter? If we're talking about the long terms effects of it, then we should ban all bad foods because long term they create major health problems. We should also ban cars, tobacco products, and alcohol. Not just those items but even modeling should be banned. Models are told they need to be a size 1-2, and if they're not, they need to lose weight-- and not always in a healthy manner. Also 80% of those boys who play football and have scholarships wouldn't even be in college if it weren't for those football scholarships.

    • Comment Link JDE Saturday, 01 June 2013 08:29 posted by JDE

      I had to stop watching midway; I couldn't take any more of Green and his knee-jerk defense of the salaries of football coaches in the name of unbridled capitalism.

    • Comment Link Dave Snyder Friday, 10 May 2013 23:36 posted by Dave Snyder

      I wish they addressed the impact of sport on Title IX. About 60-80 scholarships are issued to teams that regularly field 11 players. What this means is due to the current interpretation of Title IX, at approximately 60% female enrollment at most college campuses, the shortfall is transferred to male athletes in other sports, causing gymnastics to go the way of the dodo. Wrestling, track and field and swimming teams are also on the way out.

      I agree totally that college football needs to become a semi-pro league where facilities and names of a college can be represented. Perhaps with the payments a football player would make would be used for tuition and going to school. Nothing would prevent these athletes from pursuing these interests while competing. And best of all, gender equity would not have to include the 80 full ride scholarships issued to football players.

    • Comment Link Laura Monday, 06 May 2013 11:23 posted by Laura

      I saw about half of this debate last night, and just sat there completely stunned. I'm from Alabama. But I have always been on the fence about football. I'm not an avid football watcher or a major fan of a team. In fact, I rarely watch more than maybe 2 games a season. I went to a small college that doesn't even have football team, one of the reasons due to the fact that it was originally an all-girls school.

      While I don't really care about the sport nor really watch it, I still understand its existence and how it is a major part of schools across America. Football is an old sport and any great grandparent or grandparent call tell you that. I know I'm from a southern state, and that somehow my state is practically the epitome of American football (15 national champions later for the crimson tide), but I feel like too much emphasis is on the sport.

      However, I don't think it should be banned. Every sport has its dangers and fatalities. Never heard of the Olympic Games? Gymnastics is a very dangerous sport. Perhaps that should be banned as well. Wrestling is a very dangerous sport as all, maybe that should be banned too. The list goes on. I feel like Malcolm Gladwell's argument is a weak one. What he fails to understand is that these college boys don't go out for the teams because they're forced, they go because they want to play. They know the consequences of the sport and the possible fatalities. There is a much more dangerous thing they could engaged themselves in and it's called going to war. I don't think any Canadian should be able to tell us Americans what our college men should and shouldn't be doing. I don't get it. Why is some writer concerned about the well-being of any football player's head? Just for a side note, but Malcolm doesn't look like he's played a single sport in his life. What is he to say? He isn't a doctor or in sports medicine.

      Buss Bissinger acted like an anger jerk the whole debate and took this far too seriously. However, I do agree that coaches are paid too much. I think too much money goes into the sport. And personally, when the sport becomes almost more important than the academia of the school, I almost begin to lose respect for the institution, and just might not see it as a respectable place of learning. I think that finances for the sport and the coach need to be reevaluated and reexamined. I will disagree with Buzz on one thing. I know for a fact that the president of UAB at one point made more than the former president of the United States. Now that's something to talk about! Buzz kept talking about football scholarships almost like they're the only student who receive them. Hello, I received academic scholarships! Buzz practically said that all sports should be banned. Hello, sports are connected to staying healthy. Something that he doesn't appear to be embracing.

      I loved what Jason Whitlock said. He had a really good point. Football is a tradition across America, and it is a big deal to alumni everywhere. At my alma mater, we don't have football, but we do have our own tradition (the oldest homecoming tradition in the nation) and it is a big deal to both students and alumni.

    • Comment Link Bill Morgan Friday, 03 May 2013 09:38 posted by Bill Morgan

      I saw this debate on PBS on May 2 and was appalled that both Jason Whitlock and Tim Green allowed the debate to concentrate on two things..Repeated head injuries to PROFESSIONAL football players, Andre Waters (one of my favorite players), Junior Seau, and Dave Duerson, and allowing Malcolm Gladwell and Buzz Bisinger to repeat over and over again about the 4000 times that players got their heads banged. College football..even at the highest level is dramatically different than professional football, speed and size to name a few things, and as commentators repeatedly state..Basketball is a contact sport..Football is a collision sport. Rules have been changed to make it safer for players, helmets have been improved dramatically, and if the kids want to play and the Universities want to support it..So what???Dramatic changes need to be made in compensation of coaches, numbers of games and contact practices, and the entire governing body, but why ban college football????Why not ban medical experiments on dogs??? or Ban WAR???..

      PS I resent the fact that players brains were compared to those of a 67 year old man

      I'm 67 and seem to have all my faculties..except I am far behind in technology .and also am a Penn State graduate and would dispute the facts brought up by Mr Bissinger about SATs and Grade point averages..Check out the SAT scores of Penn State applicants now vs when I took them in 1963..I was a star at 1150, early admission and would never have a chance getting in to main campus with those SATs today

    • Comment Link Edna Bambrick Thursday, 02 May 2013 16:01 posted by Edna Bambrick

      This was a sham set-up. They put two intelligent people up to argue for banning college football because it causes brain injuries against two ex football players that are clearly suffering from brain injuries.

      Of course Gladwell and Bissinger would win. Maybe next they can debate Ali on the long term consequences of boxing.

    • Comment Link James Wednesday, 10 April 2013 09:23 posted by James

      The Ivy League participates in NCAA Division 1 with football in the FCS (formerly D1AA).

      Most of the money for highly paid coaches (Saban et al) comes from private sources (CBS, donors).

      While I agree the outcome will be different at NYU compared to Tuscaloosa, AL, I assume the debates are held in NYC for easy access to discussants and other debate participants.

    • Comment Link Tim Naylor Tuesday, 26 February 2013 20:52 posted by Tim Naylor

      While a worthy debate, Gladwell and Bissinger, completely miss the point. What does football have to do with higher education? It's as relevant as Shaq telling me to stay in school or Stephen Hawkings giving me pointers on my baby hook. Neither took a focused on refuting the main arguments made for college ball: it brings in money, gives students an opportunity they'd otherwise never have, and makes better leaders.

      If money were a justification then why not cut loose all non-revenue producing departments, such as economics, poli sci, marine biology, law, anthropology, essentially the entire university save the student union coffee shop. In terms of educational opportunity, you can easily point out that not only is one football scholarship given up is another seat for a non-athletic scholarship but also a seat for a more academically inclined student, given the lower standards and achievements of athletes. With regard to leaders, one can easily point out only one president played D1 football and that was Ford. The rest were mostly Ivy League (re: D3 schools). Both missed a real opportunity here.

    • Comment Link Talcott Friday, 11 January 2013 20:02 posted by Talcott

      Matteo suggests below that these debates be held in places like Omaha, Cedar Rapids, Colorado Springs. Matteo, there's a good reason debates like these are more likely to be found on the coasts: that's where their audience is easily found. Most people I've met while traveling throughout the heartland certainly won't be going to something like an IQ2 debate, and will be proud to say so. Jus' Sayin'

      I suggest just enjoying the debates themselves, rather than worrying about the audience results. The stats aren't trustworthy, since audience members with an agenda can cook the numbers by voting against their preference at the beginning, and regardless of the quality of the debate, switch at the end. No way to know how many do this, but I figure the more emotional the topic, the more it's done.

    • Comment Link gerald van wilgen Monday, 07 January 2013 10:46 posted by gerald van wilgen

      There was a repeat yesterday on WHYY. Great show, those guys got whooped pretty bad. Here's my question:

      Isn't the purpose of doing sports while in school, Mens sana in corpore sano?

    • Comment Link David W Friday, 24 August 2012 22:22 posted by David W

      The argument is to BAN COLLEGE FOOTBALL, not ban Football. Simply get colleges and universities out of the BUSINESS of training professional football players for the NFL. Like baseball, set up a separate farm team system for football players, Few college baseball players turn go major league. The baseball teams pay for their own system. Basketball is already being affected this way with one and out and we should take it further. No reason that we should subsidize the NBA so we should take similar steps in basketball. When football coaches are paid more than ANY OTHER TEACHER in school, and the football/basketball program has more money than the science/math/english department, then the educational priorities are wrong. The scholarship program is "pay for play" but the play is truly dangerous. Colleges should be held liable for long term damages/disabilities for football players.

    • Comment Link Matteo Monday, 20 August 2012 17:31 posted by Matteo

      When will IQ2 do the honest thing and carry these events around the country? Do they think we won't notice that these 'debates' are held in NYC at NYU with a exhaustingly predictable NYC / NYU audience worldview? (*yawn...sorry...couldn't help myself*) Talk about a 'juiced' audience and a 'juiced' outcome. C'mon IQ2, hold the same topic debates in Omaha, Cedar Rapids, Raleigh, Colorado Springs, etc. and see if you have similar audiences and similar results. Your approach is too insular. Too parochial. Get off the coasts. You'd have a breath-of-fresh-air in the types of questions and outcomes from your audiences. Then, maybe...more people might tune in! - Jus' Sayin'

    • Comment Link Richard Blackmore Wednesday, 01 August 2012 02:26 posted by Richard Blackmore

      Ronald McDonald and Charlie Sheen are not paid on the tax payers dime, or on tuition costs paid by students. The Fox news caster ignored every... single... point made by the other side. He did not speak to injuries, he did not speak to the salaries paid, again, by tax payers and students who never engage in sports. He did not refute his opponents points, he never even spoke to them.

    • Comment Link Frediano Thursday, 19 July 2012 12:21 posted by Frediano

      Was it lost on anyone that this debate was held at NYU, and that NYU banned football in 1942? BU also banned football. It is possible, schools choose to ban football on a school by school basis. So what is the problem that this debate is addressing, especially posed as it was at NYU?

      The real question is, "Should existentially terror filled watchers at NYU be allowed to ban what others freely choose to do living in freedom as a means of finally getting healthy?"

      America is turning out more Emperor Wannabees every day.

      The solution is easy; if you don't like the game, don't play it. Don't watch it. Don't go to universities that support it. Freely tell others that you think they shouldn't, either, and tell them way. Express your thoughts. Convince other schools to do what yours have done. Have loaded audience debates at NYU on the topic. Or change the channel. Welcome to America. Nobody is telling you not to flit through life wearing all the brocade, feathers, and sequins you want. Wrap your kids in 18 inches of Nerf and send them out into the world. Go for it. But as soon as you feel overcome with that paternalistic urge to be the Emperor of What Others May Freely Choose To Do, and advocate the use of state totalitarian force to implement your precious worldview on everybody in the nation, then get over it and s.t.f.u.

    • Comment Link Elijah Friday, 13 July 2012 15:04 posted by Elijah

      I didn't like arguments from either side. Both leaned too heavily on stereotypes and preconceptions of the role that athletics play in academia.

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