Spelman College in Atlanta has a great idea: They are dropping all NCAA sports teams. At first that may not seem so great, but their rationale makes total sense as they explain how this will be a revolution that will help more of their students get healthy, lose weight and commit to a lifetime of wellness.
The historically black women’s school has included NCAA teams in basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball and other sports for the past decade. But the Division III conference that they were a part of started decreasing, so the college decided to take the opportunity to eliminate all sports teams and focus its dollars on more students. Up until then, the school was spending roughly $1 million a year to serve 80 students, which accounted for just 4% of their student body.
By eliminating those sports teams and instead taking that $1 million to serve all of the college students, they are hoping to make a dent in the increasing rates of unhealthy lifestyles, obesity and inactivity.
President Beverly Tatum says the school decided it was time to change its focus.
We have to ask ourselves: What is the cost of the program and who is benefiting? How many people are benefiting? Is the benefit worth the cost?
Tatum went on to say that the goal is to positively impact the health issues that African American women have faced:
We know that 4 out of 5 women of African descent [are] overweight or obese. We know that black women are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes. We know that black women over the age of 20—something like 40 percent or higher—already have hypertension, high blood pressure.
It’s a move that makes a lot of sense. Sure, intercollegiate sports can be an important part of the college experience, but in this day and age when 70% of adults in our country are overweight or obese and over 25 million people have diabetes, it’s time for some creative solutions.
To do that, Spelman now offers a campus-wide health and fitness program. Through this, all students can take part in weight loss programs, exercise at the college gym, Zumba, dance classes, and more. Already, more than 300 students are taking advantage of this every day.
In what they call a “wellness revolution,” Spelman’s site explains their goal (as taken from an article by Tatum):
The need is urgent, and it is our population — young black women — that is among the most at risk for negative health outcomes. Committed to educating the whole person, mind, body and spirit, we have an opportunity to change this epidemic. Ending intercollegiate participation may seem counterintuitive, given our focus on physical activity, but instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars transporting a small number of athletes to intercollegiate events, we will be investing those dollars in intramural programs and wellness activities that can be sustained for a lifetime.
Of course, not everyone thinks this is a good idea. Some of the athletes are upset, and even threatening to transfer to other schools. But, Spelman is the first school to drop NCAA sports in years, and it’s a move that is re-prioritizing the way we look at things.
Tell us what you think. Is this a good idea?