At a business luncheon, someone asked the new president of Winthrop University if we will get a football team. This has been a loaded question for many years now. He responded that he wants to put that question on the table and decide that over this next year once and for all. It’s time to decide and be done with the question, he said. Therefore, timeline being what it is, I want to throw in my two cents on this issue.
I used to think that I’d love to see a football team at Winthrop, just because I enjoy college football as a consumer, and I want to see Winthrop grow. But now, I believe it would be a very big mistake to pursue this endeavor.
I hear many people talk about the football issue as simply an issue of ROI and that if we can make a football team pencil then we should definitely do it. They debate whether or not it would be successful. But let’s forget for now the question of will it succeed and ask a bigger question. Let’s say it succeeds beyond our hopes. Is that even good for Winthrop? Is Winthrop going to be more Winthrop with a football team? What’s gained versus what’s lost?
The truth is so many kids choose Winthrop for the very reason that it is not a football school. There’s basketball, baseball, and soccer for sure. But there are also sport programs that should be developed further that tie into the “alternative” sports tourism that is already a wonderful success in Rock Hill – disc golf, cycling, BMX, volleyball, soccer, and so on. Mixed with the arts culture at Winthrop these sports have a vibrancy that is, in many ways, antithetical to a football team or at least to a football school.
I believe Winthrop should invest in its current sports and intertwine them with the alternative sports boom that is happening in Rock Hill and in the country. We could be national leaders in these areas. I doubt we can be national leaders in football. Why invest in mediocrity? Why not focus on excelling?