Are You Ready for Some Football? Your College Is.

football-quarterback

Doc Seidman Says….

….On November 23, 1984, with his Boston College team losing to The University of Miami 45-41, and 28 seconds left in the game, B.C. quarterback Doug Flutie threw a desperation, “Hail Mary” pass into the end zone. Wide receiver Gerard Phelan caught the pass, untouched, for a game winning touchdown.

More than a victory on the football field, it was a win for the Admissions Office at Boston College. It is speculated that this improbable pass and catch caused applications to increase at Boston College by 16% in 1984 and another 12% in 1985. Whether or not this was completely due the football game has been debated over the years but there is no doubt that this so-called “Flutie Effect” led to an increase in the awareness of the college as well as a boost to student morale.

Can a football game really do this? Can a successful play on the field impact the admissions processes that take place off the field? More interesting to ponder, can it make a school better?

Yes, yes, and yes.  The national exposure of a good sports team has been shown to significantly increase the amount of future applications. This brings with it an increase of “good” applications from potentially good students. More applications mean the school’s acceptance rate will go down, which is a metric most schools like. For example, if during a typical year a college receives 10,000 applications and accepts 2,500 students, it will have a 25% acceptance rate. After a year of winning football, the school now gets 15,000 applications yet still only accepts 2,500 new students. This acceptance rate is now a significantly lower 16.7%, demonstrating on paper at least, the school is more selective.

Increased selectivity in the student body will have other desirable effects. If selectivity means accepting students who are more prepared for the college experience, it should positively impact both retention and completion rates. These, too, are good things.  It can also bring about more advanced classes and programs directed by more renowned faculty. The college wins again.

The glory doesn’t end with football either. A successful basketball program, even for a year or two, can fill up the school’s coffers. Gonzaga, Butler, Appalachian State, and Florida Gulf Coast University all seemed to benefit from the unexpected success of their sports teams. The so called “Flutie Effect” crossed over to college basketball, giving the students, faculty and staff something to cheer for, and the schools, some much cherished national exposure.

College football is also big business. Sponsorships, television money, ticket sales, and the like can bring in some major bucks. In 2015, it was reported that over $9 billion was generated amongst the 231 Division I NCAA schools. That’s much more money than programs in Chemistry, Literature, Engineering, and Hospitality brought in…. combined!

Is there a downside? Can a college football program do more harm than good? Possibly. For starters, it is important to keep in mind that having and maintaining a football team is expensive. If a college does not have an “elite” football program, its median loss due to football is around $3 million a year. With only around half of all Division I programs showing profitability, that’s a lot of colleges losing money on the football field.

Furthermore, it’s easy to be critical about the commitment to academics big-time football players, or other athletes, may have. There have been many allegations about players not going to classes and having work done by other students. Student football players are often enrolled in easy programs, taking easy courses with “understanding” professors. These types of incidents can harm the credibility of the school often causing outrage by the non-supporters of big time football.

Whereas there is obviously reason for concern, these incidents can occur with any student, not just those playing a big-time sport. Cheating students come in all types and are not just limited to those who can run a 40-yard dash in six seconds or less.

As an old-fashioned academic purist back in the day, I questioned the wisdom of a big-time football program. To me, it seemed to de-emphasize academics while emphasizing athletics. Wasn’t college all about academics? What value would a football team bring?

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Win or lose, a sports program has much to offer. Almost overlooked in the hoopla is the fact that involved students tend to be the happiest amongst the college population. It doesn’t matter whether it’s involvement the Chess Club, the Knitting Club, the Marching Band or the football team, those students who are engaged in some type of out- of-the-class activity are amongst the happiest. Additionally, win or lose, participation in a team sport is good thing. Aside from skills in leadership, followership, and teamwork, it looks great on a resume too. Many hiring companies will often carefully consider the student athlete resume and move their resume to the front of the pile. Playing a sport in college is also great on an interview, and of course, many will say it makes you a better person overall.

So, to big time football program skeptics out there; get over it. College and football seem to go together like…. college and football. Colleges love their football team, win or lose. A strong college football program can not only bring in more applicants, it serves as a great Saturday afternoon diversion. Students can take a break from their weekday routines, let their hair down, and have some fun, so to speak. They will even sit outside in the cold, rain, wind or snow, and cheer their team on. Colleges almost always seem to showcase their team and stadium on a college tour, and many schools even allow students to attend games for little or no charge.

Are you ready for some football? You had better be. Turns out that most colleges and their students certainly are.

Beer and the American College Student

beer

Doc Seidman Says…

…..During a recent campus tour of a large university in Germany, we wandered into the campus store and couldn’t help but notice the large selection of beer (and cigarettes and condoms) available for student purchase. In fact, we also couldn’t help but notice students walking around campus or taking a break, sitting on a bench under a tree leisurely sipping a can of beer.

As every American college student knows, the legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. Almost everyone also knows that in most other countries, Germany being one of them, the drinking age is lower than 21. Be that as it may, it is still rather shocking to see beer being sold in the college campus store and even more shocking to see it being consumed openly around campus.

To no one’s surprise, the legal drinking age of 21 does not prevent American college students from drinking beer. Unlike their German student counterparts, you do not see American college students lazing around the campus casually and openly enjoying a “cold one.”  And you rarely, if ever, see rows and rows of beer being displayed and sold in the campus store. A cold beer for a typical college student remains the “forbidden fruit” so to speak.

For those underage college students who defy the law and drink beer, Bud Light is their number one choice. It is the beer of choice for more than one out of every four underage beer consumers. Budweiser comes in at number two. Putting the two brands together gives Budweiser products a commanding 40% share of the underage beer drinking market. Coors and Corona come in a very distant third and fourth.

It is difficult to pinpoint the exact amount of beer a typical college student consumes. Beer companies do not publicly disclose their research on underage drinking. Marketing professionals have claimed that around 10 to 15% of beer sold in the US is being consumed by people not old enough to drink it. Beer companies in America therefore face a marketing conundrum: How to advertise to a user of their product, in this case an underage drinker, who legally shouldn’t be consuming their product? They do want their business though. Like most companies, Disneyland and McDonald’s being notable examples, Budweiser and the other big beer companies want to create lifelong customers.  Marketers refer to this as “cradle to grave” marketing. Those cold Budweiser’s you start drinking in high school or college should remain your brand of choice throughout your beer drinking life. They truly want your business as early as they can get it.

How college students consume beer is a different story. Whereas college students in Germany can enjoy a beer for lunch or in an outdoor public area, his or her American counterparts must hide their beer consumption, imbibing it primarily indoors. The German student might slowly sip his or her can of beer while the underage American student chugs it down quickly. One, two, three, or more beers might be guzzled before stepping out to attend a party or event. This binge drinking approach is quite common on the American college campus, but not so much overseas.

Beer drinking at college sporting events, mainly football and basketball, is also popular. Whereas the sale of beer is banned at NCAA sanctioned postseason events, colleges are on their own as to whether or not to allow beer to be sold during the non-postseason NCAA sanctioned events. This, too, poses a conundrum. This time for colleges as they know most of their students aren’t allowed to drink beer, however, they can sure use the money a beer sponsorship brings. Whereas there is an obvious reluctance to promote beer in front of underage drinkers, beer companies are all too happy to showcase their brands and throw money at the schools that promote their products. Lately, colleges seem all too happy to accept it. Slowly, and quietly, more big schools are taking the money and inking partnerships with various beer brands.

Why many college students drink beer is another important question. Like other vices in college, cigarettes, drugs, and unprotected sex most notably, drinking beer is considered to be another rite of passage. The newfound freedom of being away from home creates a culture of curiosity and experimentation. If you haven’t already been sampling beer in high school, you are likely to give it a try in college. College depression is also on the rise, and beer, and alcohol in general, are often used by students to self-medicate. Even if students are not formally diagnosed with anxiety or depression, drinking is a way to cope with the wide assortment of problems college life brings about. This could involve anything from failing a test or a class, having trouble with friends and/or roommates, or anything else in between. Are you having a bad day? Your good friends at Budweiser are here to help.

Like many other collegiate activities, certain colleges are more popular beer drinking establishments than others. Results tend to vary based on who is doing the research, but some schools tend to appear on just about everyone’s list. They include: University of Wisconsin, Madison (no surprise as Wisconsin produces a lot of beer), Tulane University in New Orleans (not really a surprise either if you have ever been to New Orleans), West Virginia University, Penn State University, and Johnson & Wales University, where chefs and beer seem to go together. The top states for underage drinking are reported to be North Dakota, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island. The states with the lowest estimates of underage drinking include North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. So, if you are a parent, and you want to do what you can to keep your college bound son or daughter away from alcohol consumption, encourage them to attend school in Utah, where state laws make it much harder to purchase beer.

It is safe to say that the relationship the American college student has with beer does not appear to be going away anytime soon, no matter what the drinking age. Perhaps over time our county’s attitude toward underage drinking and beer will reflect that of our German counterparts. At that point, we can honestly declare, “This Bud’s for You.” In the meantime, it’s really not.