American Intercollegiate Sport Structure and Culture – Day 16

By Ashley

Day 16 of the UC Sport Studies Outbound Tour began with a lecture from James Henderson at the University of Northern Colorado, followed by a tour of the facilities for student athletes. Here we learnt in more detail about sport structure and culture in the United States. The basic structure of youth organised sports is essentially a pyramid – interscholastic sports forms the base with the greatest number of participation, followed by intercollegiate sports and finally professional sport at the top of the pyramid. Similar to Australia, sport delivery also occurs in clubs for certain sports, though by comparison, the United States places a much larger emphasis on college sports. Intercollegiate sports are known for being highly organised with clear rules and regulations, with a typically larger source of funding, from university funds, student fees and other raised funds. Club sports on the other hand are organised by participants, resulting in the likelihood of varied rules across the board. Club sports are also funded by their participants, and will therefore typically have a lower funding. Henderson also discussed the impact of Title IX, by which all college related sport decisions are governed by. Title IX was designed to increase opportunities for women in sport, and to enforce equality. As a result of Title IX, scholarships offered in colleges are proportional to student enrolment, and facilities must satisfy the interests and abilities of female players. Title IX also extends to teaching staff, such as ensuring fairness and equality in wages. A raise for a male coach must result in a raise for a female coach. Henderson also spoke of funding and budgets set for the two main branches of football, the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) and the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). An annual budget for the FBS would sit around $41,363,000, whereas an FCS budget is typically $12,115,000. It would be rare of a FCS level school to make money or break even. Despite this, these budgets soar past school sporting budgets in Australia. Student athletes days are fairly intense, most beginning at 5:30am, and finishing at 11:30pm. In season student athletes would spend approximately 20 hours per week participating in sport and exercise. Students here must have 1 day off per week. Off season student athletes would typically play 8 hours of sport per week, and are permitted 2 days off per week. During these days off, students are given ‘optional’ activities, which are reasonably enforced by their coaches. As an analogy, coaches can give their students fruit, but they can’t cut it for them – coaches can give students the basic resources and suggest activities, but can’t give them an advantage over other schools and must let the students use their own initiative.

'The group checking out the football locker room' 

'The Northern Colorado Athletics Hall of Fame'

For the afternoon, our study tour group toured the Impressive University of Northern Colorado campus. We toured through the large number of facilities open to students, including the garden theatre (an amphitheatre often used for student dance practice, and group fitness classes such as yoga). The buildings on campus are very impressive, all quite large with an old but modern feel about them on the wide spread campus.

 The student recreation centre was again very impressive, complete with its own rock climbing wall.

 The University has a maximum of 250 students in any unit, and a maximum of 30 students per tutorial group, at a ratio of one teacher to 19 students. Later, the group spent the evening in Fort Collins, a beautiful town with a relaxed community feel. Here we had dinner, and had the opportunity to look around the town shops before heading back to our final nights’ accommodation at the University.

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