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Are you ready for some football??!!

Fri, Mar 27, 2009

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Not if you’re the lofty academics who run Colorado College, who unceremoniously jettisoned the football program, announcing the decision to the world in a curt little memo three days ago.

The Colorado College football program has been in existence since 1882 -or, for 127 years. C.C. played its first game 11 years after the founding of the City of Colorado Springs and has fielded a team every year since.

The team, as Mike Moran noted in a long, elegaic piece, has a distinguished history, most notably in defeating an opponent that had not lost a game for three years. The year? 1908. The team? The University of Texas!!

Citing budgetary considerations, the college claimed that the decision came only after extensive consultations with alumni, staff and students.

There might have been consultations, but they didn’t involve many of the most noted alumni of the program, who were stunned and dismayed by the news.

But the means by which the decision was made are less important than the decision itself, which speaks volumes about the college’s apparent isolation from mainstream America.

Basketball, football and baseball are quintessentially American sports – invented here, played here, and in many ways unchanged for generations. Football is an anomaly, in that it remains, for the most part, an all-male sport, a stubborn survivor of a time when virtually all college and high school sports were closed to girls and women.

That time, thankfully, is long past.

Football, rather than a symbol of male dominance, is, at least in Division III, just another sport. It’s not the province of physical freaks, 300-pound behemoths on the offensive line, or 260-pound linebackers who can run a 4.4-second 40 yard dash.

To the contrary, it’s a sport with room for everyone with a modicum of athletic ability, some high school football experience, and the willingness to submit to the discipline involved in this most arduous of team sports.

It’s a cliche to say that much of the American character has been formed upon the gridiron, but, like many cliches, it’s true.

By abandoning football, especially after committing scores of millions of dollars to build and operate the Cornerstone Arts Center, Colorado College is signaling in unmistakable terms that it’s a different kind of institution, one which disdains the rituals, traditions and recreations that most of us treasure.

Such institutions have a place, but that place is not at the center of the American experience.

The three institutions generally acknowledged to be the finest small liberal arts colleges in the United States, Amherst, Williams and Wesleyan, are in many ways much more avant-garde than is C.C. – but they love their football!!

They know that diversity isn’t just a matter of race, class, sexual orientation and ethnic orgin. They know that to succeed, a college must draw upon all of our country’s diverse and wonderful traditions – and that to extinguish a flame that has burned for 128 years is no way to advance such goals.

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. Green Flash Says:

    Small college football is just like AA or AAA baseball, providing a fabulous opportunity to enjoy the pure pleasure of sport being performed a bit beneath the pinnacle. I went to a college much like CC and reveled in Coach Edsel Schweitzer’s mastery of the 3rd-down quick punt and the craftiness of his 190# pulling tackles leading the sweeps left and right. CC’s football program cancellation is more than the death of a tradition; it is the elimination of an opportunity for creative genius in sport.

  2. dave hughes Says:

    Yeah, dump tradition, only the present counts. (but I wonder why CC claims to be itself traditional and long lasting? Only in the classrooms? Maybe it should change its name to ‘Mod College’)

    Both my uncles were star football AND baseball players at cc in the 1915′s era. And of course CC produced an all American Dutch Clark, which Hazlehurst did not mention. Too painful.

  3. Terry Johnson Says:

    A beautiful tribute – thank you from a former CC football player, part of the winning program in the mid-’70s under former head coach Jerry Carle.

    Killing the football program is an act of subterfuge reflecting the most egregious campus politics. The stakeholders – current players and 700+ living football alumni – were not apprised of the peril, nor afforded an opportunity to salvage and rebuild the program.

    The CC administration has used a ‘crisis’ to conceal an ‘agenda’. They hope this will soon blow over.

    They’ve miscalculated – again…