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A Waterfall In Bama’s Locker Room? Maybe We’re Spending A Bit Too Much On Athletics

gfx - honest opinionLast week, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that the University of Tennessee is hoping to soon tear down the old Stokely Athletic Center to make way for more football practice fields.  According to athletic director Dave Hart, an artist’s renderings of the cleared space reveals “three full practice fields.”  Combine that with UT’s indoor facility and that’s at least four full practice fields for one team.

Will the school keep building until coaches can tell recruits they’ll all get their very own personal practice fields if they sign with the Vols?

Yesterday, Al.com reported that Alabama’s splashy — literally — new locker room will include an actual waterfall.  The water will “flow from a few feet above the hot and cold tubs, which are located near the showers on the new area’s first floor.”

Hey, there’s an arms race in college football — especially among rich athletic departments, like those in the SEC — but at what point has it all gone just a bit too far?  (This video shows that at Kentucky, the facility war crosses over to basketball, too.)

Whether it’s massive meeting rooms, statues, waterfalls, umpteen practice fields or solid gold bidets (just a matter of time), the money being spent on extras in these recruiting wars is ridiculous.

I remember visiting the Vatican some years back.  As I toured St. Peter’s Basilica I was truly moved by the grandeur and majesty — and not to mention the history — of the building.  All of the gold, alabaster and marble created a sense of awe.

But as I walked past treasure after masterwork after treasure I also thought, couldn’t some of this opulence have been snipped to feed the hungry and clothe the poor?

That’s not to pick on the Catholic church.  There are churches and mosques around the globe that are eye-wateringly splendid.  All — one would hope — donate tremendous wealth to the needy.

That said, where do we draw our lines between just right and excess?

When it comes to waterfalls and multiple practice fields, at what point should an athletic department cut back and say, “You know, this money could be better spent elsewhere.”

I don’t live like a monk myself so I’m not suggesting that every dime that everyone makes should be given to the destitute.  But when I see over-spending, I do wonder what else that money could have been used for — a better library on campus?  A few more professors?  Better facilities for some of the non-revenue sports, whose athletes work just as hard as those in the revenue sports?

Again, I’m not saying anyone’s wrong here.  I’m just asking the question: How many practice fields and waterfalls do athletic departments really need?

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