Here we go again. WSU and the Pullman Chamber of Commerce just spent $13,500 on flags to promote homecoming. For those of you keeping track, that is $24,500 spent on “school spirit” in this month alone between the flags and decorating two Pullman Transit buses – which look horrible, by the way.
Really, guys? You could not stop at wrapping the buses in money so you decided to throw more money into the wind? I understand the desire to paint the town crimson and gray, but I should not need to remind you we are in a budget crisis.
I understand money for the athletic department cannot be spent elsewhere, but in light of the restructuring of the budget that has occurred during the last year, it is not outlandish to think it could also be redistributed to other budget items.
I know I have been ranting against needless spending on “school spirit” endeavors for a while now, but I do get it. We are a Pac-12 university that is known mainly for its athletics. It would be more foolish to spend no money on promoting our teams.
The truth is if we did not have such a large athletic program here, chances are we would be in an even bigger hole budget wise. Roughly 75 percent of the money coming into WSU comes from athletics in one way or another. I would also bet that most of the donations coming into WSU are either intended for or inspired by the Athletic Department. Not to mention the droves of high school athletes who come here looking for a stepping stone to the big leagues and the tuition they bring with them.
Unfortunately, it is just not possible to cut our athletic funding. In a way, the WSU Athletic Department has become too big to fail. It would be like if America cut all of its defense spending. While the money we would save could keep us going for a while, without the athletic department, we would have to beef up the academics of our institution if we wanted to survive.
So it stands to reason that any money spent on beefing up the athletics is money spent on softening the budget crisis. Better sports means more money, right? While that may be true, you have to wonder what effect the flags really had on people’s perceptions of WSU.
Austin Kittelson, a junior economics and philosophy major, was interviewed for the news article regarding the flags. He mentioned that the flags were only impressive at one point during the entire game and admitted that during a budget crisis one had to wonder if the ends justified the means.
In the end, that is the question we must all ask ourselves, especially if we are in charge of WSU’s budget. Is pumping more money into advertising the athletic program really the best way to save our school? And if so, are we making sure that the money is being used efficiently and not on pointless gimmicks that do little to change peoples’ impressions of WSU and Pullman?
Perhaps the athletic department can bring in more money with advertising, but in my experience, fans are more willing to go to games and donate their hard-earned money when their team is doing well. Maybe we should be spending less money on flags and more money on the team itself.