Football, the United States’ top spectator sport, is central to the identity of a great number of large college campuses. Students gather on Saturdays to tailgate, drink and blindly cheer on their team to the point of boisterous stupidity. At these schools, football is the epicenter of school spirit, the thing many students talk about first when they explain their college experience. It draws alumni and spectators from all over. Here in downtown Manhattan, however, that is far from the case.
NYU hasn’t trotted out a football team in over 60 years and despite the obvious desire from some students, including myself, for a huge, raucous tailgating culture to emerge here, it isn’t going to happen anytime soon. While, in a perfect world, I would love to see myself up at 9 a.m on Saturdays tailgating for a rivalry with uptown Columbia, it’s just not possible under NYU’s current circumstances. In order to remain a responsible university that serves the needs of its students, NYU cannot bring football back.
It is well-documented that the university pays for most of its expenditures through student tuition, and it is even more well-documented that our tuition remains one of the highest in the country. With an endowment of $3.5 billion, about a third of the size of Columbia’s, there simply isn’t enough money to be funneled into a football team to make it worthwhile. Football expenditures are higher than nearly any other sport offered here and in order for our team to remain competitive, entertaining and most importantly safe, NYU would have to commit a considerable chunk of money on a yearly basis. With the 2031 plan in full effect, students can already expect to see their tuition gradually rise, and the last thing they need is another significant rise due to the addition of a team which, frankly, would probably garner little to no support.
Our sports culture here remains minimal, and to make football financially worth it, it would have to do a full turnaround in a short time. Division III athletics here don’t attract the type of state-school support from students like they do in places like Alabama or Penn State, and the addition of football would do little to change that. If a 100,000 person stadium could be built in walking distance of Washington Square Park, or if NYU were to rent out Yankee Stadium to host games, that would be different. But, of course, real estate in Manhattan wouldn’t allow NYU to build anything remotely of the sort, and renting Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly a bargain these days. Men’s basketball captain Max Ralby believes that the current makeup of NYU sports is the only one that logically makes sense for the university.
“Even if we did have football here, I think there’d only be a small percentage of students who’d make the trip out, tailgate and go to games,” Ralby said. “I think the selection of sports is what makes sense for NYU at the moment, and until we change the culture of the entire undergraduate student body, I don’t know if football would be such a main attraction as it is at other schools.”
The university has a moral obligation to do all it can to keep tuition as affordable as possible. They have already failed in that sense on multiple occasions. With several expansions already on its plate, NYU cannot possibly undergo the expansion of athletics at this time. As much as I’d love to be screaming until I lose my voice every Saturday, that’s just not what students come here for. And while having the option would be great, it’s just a luxury that neither the university nor its tuition-paying students can afford.
Email Bobby Wagner at [email protected]