Monday, January 14, 2008

Adventures in human capital formation? 

In a 2006 NCAA survey of 21,000 athletes who were then playing in a variety of men's and women's sports, football players reported spending 44.8 hours a week practicing, playing, or training for their sport. That's on top of the time players spend in the classroom.

The findings shocked campus leaders and athletics officials at the gathering here.

"That's out of control," said Walter Harrison, president of the University of Hartford. "I'm hoping the [NCAA] bodies that oversee football will do something about this, and that the board of directors pays attention to it."

Bob Chichester, until recently athletics director at the University of California at Irvine, wondered whether players were being pressured to train that many hours or were choosing to do so on their own.

"If we're requiring student-athletes who might not otherwise want to spend that much time on their sport to practice and train that many hours, then we really have a problem," he said.

The NCAA limit is 20 hours of mandatory time. From the Chronicle of Higher Education this morning. I suspect in many cases it is voluntary. One should wonder, though, whether there's a "tournament pay" story going on here. To win playing time, you must put forth more effort. As evidence, consider that the survey showed Division I golfers reported 40.8 hours; women softball players, 37.1. Now that's a lot of time for what is likely a dubious return, if all they were investing in is the possibility of pro career.

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