“Good morning, gentlemen,” the University President began. “I see we have a busy agenda today, so let’s get started. First we’ll hear from Professor Schwartz from the Science Department.”
“Thank you, sir,” began the science professor. “I am hoping that we can update some of the equipment in our department and possibly outfit a new chemistry lab. We’re now several years into the twentieth century and the world of science is just exploding. The telegraph may soon give way to Mr. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. The Wright Brothers continue to advance heavier than air flight. Mr. Thomas Edison is a virtual factory of science with his light bulb, phonograph and now moving photographs.
“Much of our equipment was purchased before the USS Maine was sunk and several rooms haven’t been updated since shortly after the Civil War. Almost every student at this university takes at least three science courses, and those who major in science spend part of every semester in the laboratories. This improvement would be of great benefit to our students.
“I’m proposing that we commit the sum of five thousand dollars to improve the Science Department. Thank you.”
“Thank you professor,” replied the University President. “As you know decisions will be reached after all of the proposals are presented, although it looks like the only other proposal is from our athletic department. Mr. Johnson, if you’d please be so kind as share your presentation?”
“Thank you Mr. President. I can sum up my proposal in one word. Football!”
“Yes, football. It’s the greatest things to happen to colleges and universities since we switched from scrolls to bound textbooks.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar with this football.”
“It’s a game one university plays against another. It’s been growing in popularity since Howard played against Tufts back in ’75. We need a football program.”
“I see, Mr Johnson,” replied one of the faculty members. “And what would you need to have this football?”
“Well, we’d need a stadium in which to play, uniforms, training equipment and some other miscellaneous and sundry. We’d need to hire a coach and a manager. I estimate that startup costs would be about half a million dollars.”
“Half a million dollars!” exclaimed Professor Schwartz.
“Yep,” replied Mr. Johnson. “But don’t worry; the faculty will be happy to donate money for a quality football program. Why they’ve already pledged $5,000 and I’m certain that I can double that amount by fall.”
“I see. Now tell me, how many people would be participating in this football sport of yours?”
“About fifty.” Professor Schwartz began sputtering.
“You propose to spend five hundred thousand dollars on something that would only benefit fifty of our young men and women?”
“Men. Football is a manly sport.
“Although now that you mention it I’ve heard that some colleges have young women leading cheers for the team. If we did that we would double the number of students involved.”
“But even if you did include a hundred students, you’re proposing that we spend as much on each of them as it would take to update the entire Science Department,” replied Professor Schwartz incredulously.
“That’s why we need a stadium!” responded Mr. Johnson with a tone one usually reserves for slow witted children. “We can sell tickets to the other students to watch the game.”
“I know most of our students come from good and prosperous families,” replied another of the faculty members. “However, we do have many who must be most frugal to cover tuition, textbooks and laboratory fees. Do you think it wise to expect them to contribute money toward this football?”
“Of course. It’s a small price to pay for school loyalty. Besides, colleges with successful football teams are recognized. Our graduates will earn more. More prospective students will apply to attend here. Our alumni will be more powerful in their careers and want to donate more. It’s a no lose proposition.
“Oh, and wait until I tell you about basketball!”
At this point, Professor Schwartz had an attack of apoplexy, and collapsed on the floor. The meeting ended without the usual motion, second and vote.
But, the next day surveyors were on campus placing stakes in the ground for the football stadium to occupy the most choice piece of real estate the university owned.
You will be pleased to learn that barely ten years later the Science Department was able to purchase some of the necessary equipment. It was material declared military surplus after the “War to End All Wars.”
Remodeling the laboratory is still on the “proposed” list and expected to be budgeted for in the next few years.
Last year, the old stadium was replaced by a new, state of the art facility.