Washington-Grizzly Stadium at the University of Montana
The University of Montana’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research has produced a study estimating the economic value of Grizzly athletics at $120.8 million in sales and $52.8 million in compensation each year. Those are big numbers, especially in a town the size of Missoula. The study’s methodology, however, suggests it was conducted with an eye toward making those numbers as large as possible.
For example, it counts tuition and fees payed by all student athletes, plus whatever scholarships they get, plus tax funding for UM athletics. It counts travel and accommodation expenses during away games, as well as lodging, meals and even auto repairs purchased by visiting fans. It counts not just the salaries of all athletics-related employees, from trainers to food service vendors, but also the value of their benefits and the estimated economic activity their spending generates. The assumption is that if Grizzly sports didn’t exist, everyone involved with them would disappear.
If that’s its approach, I think BBER forgot some items. For example, the study does not take into account sales of Jon Krakauer’s book Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town. It doesn’t include the salaries of police who investigated student athletes or the attorneys who represented them in court. It completely overlooks game-day alcohol sales. It’s possible these lines didn’t make it into the BBER calculations because they reflect an aspect of UM athletics that has been controversial in recent years.
I choose to look at this study as a tentative step toward acknowledging those problems. Yes, it introduces the strange scenario in which UM athletics vanishes completely, and it conducts an argument so exaggerated and purely economic as to be almost funny. But it is also a tacit acknowledgment that something has gone wrong. The first step to defending your net value is admitting you have a downside, even if you must introduce a false dichotomy in the process.
No one is talking about disbanding the Griz. A lot of people are talking about the massive sexual assault scandal that may or may not have reduced enrollment by 20% over the last five years. If we’re going to perform a broad accounting of costs and benefits, let’s make sure we count everything. You can read all about it in this week’s column for the Missoula Independent, which is sure to anger superfans. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!
Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist takes the oath with Reagan, some guy and Toots
In 2003, Ruth Bader Ginsberg described William Rehnquist’s feminist turn as “such a delightful surprise.” Maybe he suddenly decided that combating pervasive gender discrimination trumped states’ rights, or maybe his daughter had just become a single mom. The second explanation would comport with a new study out of the University of Rochester, which found that “judges with daughters consistently vote in a more feminist fashion on gender issues than judges who have only sons.” The effect is especially pronounced among Republican appointments.
by Thomas Nast—the cartoonist, not my rap name
Let’s say a witch transports you to a mythical country called, I dunno, Furmerica or Harmonica or whatever. The country is nominally a democracy, but everyone you meet agrees that Furmerican politics are a farce. The two major parties are operatively indistinguishable, both in their dishonesty and in their infatuation with rich patrons. The few politicians who sincerely hope to govern by their beliefs—the real Furmericans, if you will—are invariably dumb. The Congress of Furmerica is a long argument between liars and fools, and don’t even get me started on the Hexagonal Office. Ask any citizen, and he’ll tell you that they’re all a bunch of bums, which is why he doesn’t even pay attention anymore. Today is Friday, and we have pinpointed Furmerica’s second biggest problem. Won’t you skirt the root cause with me?
Wednesday’s weather map for Iowa
In conclusion, China is a land of contrasts. It’s been a long week here at the Combat! blog offices, and today will be the longest week of all. Strangely, though, I’m not scared. It’s probable that my brain is shutting down in response to cat video deprivation, but whatever—today is Friday, and even the worst Friday offers that glimmer of hope which so contrasts with the earlier days of the week. Probably I’ll be dead by Monday, so today could be my last day of work ever. It’s basically the weekend now, except for the crushing tedium that lies ahead. But that’s life: you have to take the good with the bad, the hot with the cold, the glimpse of sunlight with the inevitable hail. Won’t you enjoy/despise what you read/watch with me/yourself?
I’m going to present two claims, and you can decide for yourself which is more compelling:
- Differentiation of species occurred over millions of years through natural selection of hereditary traits.
- Differentiation of species occurred over millions of years through natural selection of hereditary traits, you prick.
The second one just sounds truer, doesn’t it? That is the odd finding of this study, helpfully summarized by one of the authors in last weekend’s New York Times. First of all, I think we’re all glad that there is a Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, and it is printed. Second, the study focused specifically on online comments sections, finding that comments which contained epithets, profanity and ad hominem attacks affected readers’ viewpoints more powerfully than equivalent comments without those attacks. Civilization is doomed.