Monday, December 07, 2009

A Modest Proposal: Six-Man College Football

G.F. Central Intros
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming (my employer) is proposing the creation of two soccer teams for the next academic year. The following is the introduction to the proposal sent out to the college community last week.

We are proposing to begin an intercollegiate soccer program—for both men and women—at Northwest College. Such a program will have a positive impact on enrollment and will provide additional opportunities for extracurricular activity for our students.

We plan to begin the soccer program with modest scholarship and staff budgets. As the cost/benefit analysis at the end of this proposal shows, the program can be implemented with a net positive impact on our overall budget. And although our analysis does not include revenue from so-called “FTE funding,” when future funding allocation models are implemented (that will take these enrollments into consideration), NWC’s budget will certainly be positively affected.

NWC Paul Prestwich has invited feedback on this subject which I was happy to do.

Dr. Prestwich,

I’ll admit I’m not a big soccer fan except when the World Cup rolls around every four years, so the following response to the college’s intercollegiate soccer program proposal shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The proposal for two intercollegiate soccer teams seems a pretty safe thing to do, perhaps too safe and thus unimaginative in my mind. I predict it won’t stir much interest, but no doubt will be an addition that looks good on paper. Nevertheless, I don’t see having two soccer teams being much different than having two basketball teams... pardon the yawn here, but I’ll admit basketball doesn’t melt my butter either. Nevertheless, soccer—like basketball—is a great game, but not nearly as popular as basketball assuring that only the purest of soccer fans will have the stomach for two teams in a college/community of this size—and I doubt there are that many in Powell, Wyoming.

Several years ago I proposed a Wyoming college six-man football conference that was sent around to the state’s other colleges as well. And even though this idea has gone out and returned empty-handed, I thought that in light of the college’s soccer proposal, now is a good time to state my disappointment in the leadership of the state community colleges and their inability or lack of interest in starting what could be the nation’s first collegiate six-man football league—talk about turning heads and interest far beyond our state border. I’ll venture to say that such pioneering/innovative spirit is just too bold and requires too much imagination for those who are in the position of entertaining such “wild” ideas here in the state that talks the talk of being a “cowboy,” but seldom walks the walk.

Initiating a men’s six-man football team at the same time a women’s soccer team would surely make the women’s soccer program more viable, more unique and thus, more appealing—just like women’s volleyball.

Close Game
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
There are students from all over the Intermountain West who grow up playing six and eight-man football (Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming as of this year)—most never get a chance to play at the collegiate level. I can’t help but think of the unique recruiting angle this would provide for the college as well. Imagine, going after the standouts of the smaller schools instead of the biggest kids from the biggest schools/programs and all the baggage that comes with many of them. Surely there would be students hailing from more traditional eleven-man programs interested as well.

I suspect you and many others reading this have already chalked it up to another one of my zany ideas, and we all know I’m nothing but trouble anyway. Nevertheless, I thought this was an opportune time to throw my proposal out there one more time.

Even more outrageous, how about men’s six-man football and women’s rugby?

Innovation and imagination have never been easy—especially in this part of the world. Long live “Yellowstone College!” (a.k.a. “Northwest College”)