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Jacob Smith: A little bit of perspective

Jacob Smith • Updated Nov 16, 2017 at 1:00 PM

A week ago or so, Sports Center posted a video on Instagram that showed Blake Griffin announcing to the Oklahoma Sooners’ sports teams that they were officially sponsored by Jordan and would all be receiving new shoes. 

It raised some questions for me; mainly, how much are these universities making off sports that they can casually switch brands midseason and buy all of their athletes new shoes and equipment? Not to mention, I was a little jealous at the players getting free pairs of Jordan shoes. 

Well turns out, a quick Google search can answer that question. According to businessinsider.com, Texas A&M topped the list in 2016 of schools that make the most money off of college sports, taking in more than $190 million annually. 

Wow. For $190 million, you could buy a whole lot of shoes, even if they’re as overpriced as Jordan shoes are. 

Not surprisingly, football leads the pack in average money brought in. What is surprising is the gap between it and the next biggest moneymaker, men’s basketball. The average NCAA Divison 1 football team brings in more than $29 million. Men’s basketball? It almost brings in $8 million. Then you get to the third highest earning sport, men’s ice hockey, which brings in $2.5 million. From there it gradually decreases all the say down to men’s gymnastics, which brings in a grand total of $167 thousand. Seems kind of meager compared to the bigger sports. 

I spent a summer working with the Middle Tennessee State University volleyball team. About 10 years ago, they were consistently ranked in the top 25 teams in the country. Now, not so much, but it’s still a relatively respected program. 

I’ll admit, I was a little jealous of all of the equipment they got for being on the team; shoes, jackets, jerseys, warm-ups, pants, and other cool gear. What I wasn’t jealous of at all was their schedule. 

These girls woke up every morning at 6 a.m. to lift weights. At 7:45, they ate breakfast before coaching camps at 8. From 12-1 p.m. they had a lunch break, then back to coaching camps from 1-8 p.m. At 8, open gym started for any of the girls in camp who wanted to stay and play. The girls would have to stay for that until it ended at 10 p.m. This was five days a week. 

My point is, they do get a lot of cool gear, but it’s by no means a free ride. During the season it gets even worse. You still have to go to practice and lift weights, but you also have to maintain your school work, your game schedule –which often includes extensive travel at the division 1 level—and most schools have mandatory study hall for their athletes. 

So, really, the teams that got presented new shoes from Blake Griffin probably worked really hard for them. Next time I see a division 1 team getting rewarded with new gear, I’ll try to remember all of the work the MTSU volleyball team did for the gear they had. 

Jacob Smith is a staff writer for The Democrat. Email him at jsmith@lebanondemocrat.com and follow him on Twitter @wilsonnewsroom.

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