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Low-revenue sports offer little financial aid

Nikol Safronova, Staff Reporter

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After spending their high school years juggling athletics alongside academics, senior athletes have        started to apply for scholarships in hopes of being given financial aid from their dream schools.

Yet while football and basketball have a very large participation amongst teenagers and include various scholarships that athletes are eligible to receive, other sports such as fencing, bowling and water polo offer little opportunity for scholarship money. In fact, according to Consumer News and Business Channel (CNBC), colleges that fund NCAA Division II bowling for both men and women only have about four and a half scholarships available in total of all the scholarships for colleges, while men’s football in the same division receive eight times that amount, totaling at 36 scholarships.

There are several reasons why there is such a large difference between funding allocated to each sport. Mike Kubacki, men’s bowling coach at Calumet College of St. Joseph, explains one reason for this disparity.

“In reality, the sport of football brings revenue to a college,” Kubacki said. “So some schools have to allocate more funds for a certain sport, like football in order to receive more money.”

Similarly, the reason why some sports receive more funding is because the revenue that is gained from a sport, coming from ticket sales, merchandise and publicity, is larger than that of other sports.

Though this unequal distribution of funds between sports may seem unfair, Joe Ambrose, women’s bowling coach at Kutztown University, emphasizes it is just the way the sport’s business works.

“It’s unfair but that’s the way life is. Low-revenue sports, like bowling, fencing or water polo have little gain-revenue, so they really don’t bring in any money outside of student revenue,” Ambrose said, “There is big money in sports like football or basketball.”

While low-revenue sports offer less scholarships than football, schools can be convinced to allocate funds to other sports if they can bring in a difference in revenue.

“There is no football team at Calumet College of St. Joseph and when they first hired me I was the one who originated the bowling team,” Kubacki said, “I told them that the program that I wanted to create required certain funds and if they were willing to take a chance, I could really establish a successful team.”

Bill McNamara, head football coach, states that regardless of the large numbers of scholarships that colleges offer, it tends to be quite uncommon for students to receive full ride athletic scholarships.

“Scholarships are often a reward for hard work and success, and ultimately, while athletes may not get a scholarship desired, they will still have an opportunity to get a quality education,” McNamara said.

Nonetheless, while many athletes do not receive full ride athletic scholarships, that does not stop them and their coaches from gaining motivation and pushing themselves further in their athletic career.  James Daigler ’15 emphasizes that there will be some athletes that might be motivated by scholarships and there are others motivated by their pure passion for the sport.

“Personally, I started fencing in seventh grade because I enjoyed the sport,” Daigler said. “I continued to play because I loved the company of the people on the team and I still loved to fence.”

Scholarships might not be the only factor that can encourage an athlete to continue with their sport.

After all, the athletes should not only be motivated by the possibility of a scholarship but also by the desire for constant improvement, Kubacki said. The coaches can also help motivate these athletes, but ultimately, their drive to continuously improve must come from within.

Like Kubacki, Ambrose and McNamara also believe that the motivation of an athlete must be fueled primarily from the athlete’s own determination.

“Our players want to be great football players, and we as coaches provide the needed structures for them to succeed,” McNamara said. “However when it comes down to it, our athletes should be able to be motivated by the love of the sport and the willingness to improve as players and people.”

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