When: Sat., Jan. 14, 11 a.m. 2012
2011 was an especially big year for one perennial sporting indulgence: rolling the voracious beast of big-time college athletics on its back to expose its dark underbelly. Scandals, needless to mention, did the trick, as did a damning article by Taylor Branch in the October issue of The Atlantic, in which he described the NCAA as a price-fixing cartel that callously places the athletes' interests below its own.
Shortly before Branch's exposé was published, the Indy ran a special issue on big-time football in the Triangle. In one piece, Thad Williamson reviewed a recent book by Duke economics professor Charles Clotfelter, Big-Time Sports in American Universities. According to Williamson, Clotfelter's take on the proper role of revenue sports in higher education, while not uncritical, is "not a moralistic condemnation." Instead, using historical and original research, Clotfelter shows that "college basketball and football do provide many benefits to society, particularly to the loyal fans of schools who evidently derive so much satisfaction ('utility' in economics lingo) from watching their team play." Clotfelter discusses his book at 11 a.m. (He also appears at the Southwest Regional Library in Durham on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.) —Marc Maximov