Reflections on Georgetown Athletics: Past, Present, and a Proposal for the Future
Callahan, Michael James
Intercollegiate Athletics Programs in America generally follow two models, "Competitive" Athletics and "Participatory" Athletics. "Competitive" athletic teams are well funded and capable of winning conference and NCAA championships. "Participatory" athletic teams are not well funded and are not expected to win. "Participatory" teams are centered around the idea of providing student-athletes an opportunity to compete in a sport they enjoy playing. Georgetown University, a member of the Big East Athletic Conference, is operating its Athletic Department using both the "Competitive" and "Participatory" models. Georgetown University's marquee athletic program is Men's Basketball and membership in the Big East Conference has proven to be very valuable for the team and the University. The exposure of the program and the University on national television broadcasts gives Georgetown a tremendous amount of publicity. Revenues from ticket sales and merchandising have also proven to be very lucrative. The Big East Conference is great for the game of basketball but the same cannot be said for all sports at Georgetown. In order for the Men's Basketball team to compete in the Big East Georgetown is required to have most of its other sports participate in the conference. While Georgetown Basketball is well funded in relation to its peers, many other Georgetown teams lack the resources of their conference competitors. Georgetown's "Participatory" programs in Baseball, Softball, Men's and Women's Golf, Men's and Women's Tennis, Men's and Women's Swimming, Field Hockey and Women's Rowing compete against Big East teams with many more scholarships, more coaches and better facilities. As a result Georgetown's "Participatory" sports are not successful in terms of wins and losses and securing Big East and NCAA tournament berths. Losing programs generally have trouble attracting top recruits, raising funds and attracting fans. Internal studies show that the student athlete experience for members of the "Participatory" teams is not as good as those on the "Competitive" teams. In this study I look at Georgetown's athletic past to understand how it became a member of the Big East Conference. Next, examine the present state of Georgetown athletics to see which teams are successful and which are not. In interviews with the head coaches of many of the "Participatory" sports I find a divide between the idea and reality of a "Participatory" sport. Players and coaches on the "Participatory" teams want to win. However, the "Participatory" teams lack the funding to win in the Big East Conference. These teams have a history of losing in the Big East and their prospects for winning in the future do not look promising. The Big East is great fit for the "Competitive" teams but it does not meet the needs of the "Participatory" teams. In order to fulfill its desire to have both "Competitive" and "Participatory" Athletics Georgetown should request that the Big East allow all Georgetown to remove its "Participatory" teams from the conference. Georgetown should move these teams to a conference such as the Patriot League, which will provide these teams the opportunity to win and compete for a championship.
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