Perspectives

America’s System of Athletics is Failing: Expert David Ridpath Has Observed


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The American system of amateur athletics is mostly school based: elementary, middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities. Yet, that system is failing both the student-athlete and the general public, according to Dr. David Ridpath, the Kahandas Nandola Professor of Sports Administration at Ohio University.

With a school based system, too many students are “cut” from competitive athletics at an early age and therefore, do not receive the benefits of physical activity throughout their school life, according to Dr. Ridpath.

He also complains that stellar student athletes too often get special benefits to keep them eligible to play – especially at the college and university levels. This, according to Dr. Ridpath, deprives the student-athlete of a broad and useful education. He claims to have known student athletes that have been illiterate when they left their university athletic programs prior to graduation.

Dr. Ridpath also challenges that notion that major athletic success at a college or university brings long term benefits to the institution. It might bring a short-term blip in applications and donations but Ridpath says there is no proof of long-term benefits.

Instead of concentrating on a school based system of athletics, Ridpath suggests in his new and upcoming book that American should embrace the European model of club sports based in communities.

He says that club sports would be more inclusive of a wider swath of the population and include both young and older participants – thereby allowing our country to become more athletic and more physically fit.

Although community-club sports would cost some taxpayer dollars to support, Dr. Ridpath feels that it would be money well spent and would lower health-care costs in the nation.

Dr. Ridpath is a frequent media commentator about college and university athletics. He has appeared on ESPN and other television networks. He also writes an ongoing blog for Forbes magazine. It can be read here.
He also wrote the 2012 book Tainted Glory: Marshall University, the NCAA, and One Man’s Fight for Justice.

David Ridpath
David Ridpath