Over at ESPN.com, Jim Caple asks this age-old question.
The Times of London recently ranked my alma mater, the University of Washington, 23rd on its list of the 200 finest universities in the world. Let me repeat: My school is No. 23 in the world and the fourth-highest-ranked public U.S. university. If only those big foam hands had more fingers on them, I would drive down to Eugene, Ore., and wave them in the face of every one of those damn Ducks.
On the other hand, this marks the ninth consecutive year my Huskies will finish their football season unranked in the AP Top 25 poll. They have been ranked for only one week in the past seven years. So perhaps I’ll just stay here in Seattle and avoid anyone from Oregon until after the Ducks get beat in the BCS title game (or better yet, lose to the Beavers on Saturday).
Now, which Top 25 is more important? To be among the top 25 in a sport played virtually nowhere else in the world, through a ranking determined by biased sportswriters, many of whom only see some of those 25 teams play? Or for your school of perhaps 40,000 students to be ranked among the top 25 universities in the entire world based on its faculty, research, academic citations, diversity and innovation? The answer, I suppose, depends on whether your team is headed to a decent bowl game and whether you can afford to go as well after paying your tuition/outstanding student loan.
What is more important, personally, your school’s academics or its sports? Publicly, we all say academics (well, aside from people in Alabama). But privately, our actions say otherwise. Quick, to which have you have donated more money since graduation — your alma mater’s academic fund or your office NCAA tournament pool? And which do you have hanging somewhere in your house — your diploma or several bowl game souvenir T-shirts?
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