Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lessons on Fairness

I can certainly understand the anger and frustration that continues to come from the men on the two sports teams that are being eliminated by UW-Oshkosh in what the school is calling a "response to state budget cuts".  I can also sympathize with the supporters of those sports who want to take an active role and raise money to help save them.  But unfortunately, those athletes and boosters have to learn a hard lesson about what passes for "fairness" in today's society.

The first lesson to be learned is that those in a position of strength must be cut down to "make things fair".  When UWO officials announced the elimination of just men's soccer and men's tennis they added at the very end of the presentation that it will "help with Title IX compliance".  That means barring the complete elimination of inter-collegiate sports at Oshkosh, all men's programs are in jeopardy--and all women's programs are safe--even if interest in those sports is lacking.  I say that because I have been at the same driving range as the open tryouts for the UWO women's golf team--which were needed just to fill out a six-person squad.  And it was not good--as it appeared many of the potential players had never been involved in competitive golf before.  But because of the interpretation of Title IX as meaning "the same number of spots for women as for men", that team is safe no matter how hard it is to find viable members--while men's soccer (which has to cut guys every year) has to go by the wayside.

Meanwhile, those trying to put together the fundraising for saving the sports independent of the school itself are getting the cold shoulder from Administration.  In fact, officials went out of their way at the initial press conference to discourage any such efforts with the claim that you can't run a program on the hope of coming up with outside funds every year--no matter how much you raise.  But the real reason--and the lesson those alumni apparently didn't learn during their time in Oshkosh--is that what is popular with the masses is not always fair.  There will be other cuts made at UWO which just haven't been announced yet.  They may include doing away with some "Cultural Studies" program or perhaps an Assistant Campus Diversity Director position.  How would it look if UWO eliminated these "vital" services and there was NO private fundraising effort to save them?  Or how would it look if there was a fundraising effort and it raised SQUADOOSH? How would that make the handful of people affected by those cuts "feel"?  And how would they "feel" when they hear about the hundreds of thousands of dollars that men's soccer and men's tennis was able to raise to avoid the same fate?  I'd bet they would "feel" pretty bad about themselves and need to drop out of school because of it.

We here in the private sector complain all the time about college graduates who come out not having learned a thing.  It looks like some soon-to-be-former tennis and soccer players will be leaving Oshkosh having learned what "fairness" is all about.

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