Little Rock university considers football program
In the computing world exists applications disguised as legitimate software that, once installed, end up doing serious damage to its host system.
They call such malicious programs Trojans. Computer users are lured into activating them by the promise of a seemingly legitimate program’s beneficial features. The attraction quickly fades once the full nature of the Trojan becomes clear, but by that point, the damage can often be irreversible.
And, oh yeah, did you hear the University of Arkansas at Little Rock has agreed to study the feasibility of developing a football and marching band program? Hmmm … what’s that school’s mascot? A centurion? No, that’s not it. The Warriors? No, that’s not quite right.
Oh yeah, they’re the Trojans. Pure coincidence, we’re sure. Little Rock’s branch of the University of Arkansas System has had some successful runs with its basketball teams and in other sports, but football hasn’t been a part of its culture since the mid-1950s. Arkansas’ capital has, however, had college-level football in the form of the Razorbacks, that team from up in the Ozark Mountains that for years played several games a year at Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium.
The Hogs, though, are probably ending their Little Rock games in the next year or two when the UA’s contract with War Memorial runs its course. Like any self-respecting school and community, Little Rock is trying to seize opportunity in the midst of change. UALR, the city of Little Rock and the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism can hardly be faulted for wanting to study the potential positives and negatives of developing a full-scale, Division I college football program.
It is much easier to be enthusiastic about a study of a potential football program at Little Rock than it is to embrace the actual birth of such a program. A study will cost somewhere less than $100,000, split among the three agencies. The anticipated costs of developing a football program will run into the millions … and millions.
Some UALR students presented first-year Chancellor Andrew Rogerson with a petition of 1,000 signatures in support of reviving football at the Little Rock campus. Surely the prohibitions on freshman hazing apply to the chancellor’s office.
Backers of football’s revival suggest it may help reinvigorate enrollment, which has been stagnant, and could prove an economic shot in the arm for central Arkansas to at least partially replace the economic losses associated with the Hogs’ diminishing presence. Those would be the attractive benefits.
But the rebirth of football comes with the potential of side effects, not the least of which are the high costs to start up a program and to cover the annual costs. Only the Razorbacks, among the state’s college programs, actually make money. All other public colleges with football programs rely in part on student fees. UALR already has some pretty stiff student fees.
A football program in Little Rock could easily become a big economic burden.
There’s also the question of whether a football team really is an efficient or effective way to attract more students.
But that’s what studies are for. It’s easy to understand UALR and Little Rock wanting to investigate the possibilities. A study is probably a good step. But count us skeptical that a Trojan football team will, ultimately, make sense.
We could be wrong. It might happen — right after the Red Wolves at Arkansas State take the field against the Hogs.