To their credit, someone at the University of Iowa athletic department is trying to get it right. The problem is, they’re asking all the wrong questions.
Marc Morehouse and Scott Dochterman of The Cedar Rapids Gazette have discovered and shared a survey called “Black and Gold Feedback” that was recently sent to season ticket holders by the Iowa athletic department in which respondents are asked to prioritize, on a scale of 1 to 10, things like winning, graduating players and “doing it the right way.”
Ahem. Where to begin…
One would hope that any self-respecting fan would answer each of those questions with a “10.” But the truth is, fans are fans and we love our teams most when they win.
We love to trash talk with our rivals and with fans of other teams, but the argument invariably ends the same way: with the most recent winner gleefully shouting, “Scoreboard!”
It’s awfully difficult to counter that with, “Graduation Rate!” or “Yeah, well we do it RIGHT!” It just doesn’t have the same ring (no pun intended) to it, and besides, who carries graduation stats around in their wallet to whip out at their favorite sports bar?
But fans can be forgiven their maniacal dedication to winning. That is, after all, what makes them fans.
Institutions, however, must balance the drive to win with graduating players (they really are supposed to be there to get an education) and the general public’s perception of how they go about their business. But is that really news to anyone? Does the Hawkeye Nation need to be reminded that water is wet, too?
While the questions on this survey may seem painfully obvious, perhaps Iowa is trying to send a subtle reminder to its faithful that in college sports, there’s more to it than just winning. Other priorities must enter the equation, too. But again, these would seem to be bedrock principles that every school, no matter how big or small, tries to adhere to.
You wouldn’t think they would need to be re-emphasized, especially to their most dedicated fans, the season ticket holders. And it’s not as though Iowa has been in the news recently for failing to live up to these principles, have they? Did I miss that?
Certainly they would like to win more games, having gone 4-8, 8-5 and 7-6 over the last three seasons, but what team doesn’t want to win more?
Again, this seems like a question that answers itself. Their graduation rate is tied for fourth-best in the Big Ten at 78 percent, so no shame there. And I don’t recall hearing of any NCAA investigations, so check that one off. It’s really a head-scratcher as to why Iowa felt it necessary to ask their fans to prioritize things that don’t really need prioritizing.
But suppose they get back some answers they didn’t expect. Suppose Hawkeye fans decide to scrap everything they and every other Big Ten school claim to stand for, and they let their administration know, in no uncertain terms, that they don’t care about graduating players or doing things the “right” way…what does Iowa do then? The backpedaling and scrambling that would cause in Iowa City (away from the football field, that is) could actually be pretty entertaining. Not advocating it, mind you. Just saying…
So, to recap: Water’s still wet, the sky’s still blue, and winning games, graduating players and “doing it right” are still important at the University of Iowa. The question remains, though…did anyone ever really think otherwise?
*Featured Photo (above) credit to USA TODAY Sports