The University of Massachusetts Amherst has made tremendous investments in its football program. Cutting it back at this point makes no sense (“UMass should shrink or scrap football”). Instead of consistently calling for UMass to abandon ship three years into a long-term project, the Globe’s editorial board should encourage the university to create a sport performance major.
Dance, theater, and art are academic majors. With programs in sport management and kinesiology, UMass is well positioned to develop an academically rigorous curriculum focused on the business of sport, the psychology of teamwork and competition, and the science of athletic performance. John Lombardi, a former UMass Amherst chancellor and, later, president of the Louisiana State University system, argued for this approach in an opinion piece last year.
Student athletes who are accepted into a sport performance major would get practicum credits for participation in varsity athletics. The balance of their credits would come from general education requirements and courses within the sport performance curriculum. As a society, we are OK with young artists honing their talents within an academic curriculum. The long-term solution for college athletics is to allow student athletes to do the same.
The writer is a 2009 graduate of UMass Amherst with a degree in sport management.