point/counterpoint: Fourth down and longshot

James Galloway and I were in the office the other day and we got to talking “what ifs.” What if global warming was global cooling? What if smoking cigarettes were healthy for you? What if Galloway tried juggling two girls at once? That’s when we started talking business. What if VCU had a football team? Well, what if?

Richmond folk don’t like football?

By James K. Galloway

It’s not a question of whether or not VCU needs a football stadium – in fact, we wouldn’t need football except sports are the only reason De Soto and I have jobs. A lot of people just don’t care but still want a football team. So, let’s talk about it.

I think a football team would be a good thing, because football is a great American sport even if it has been commercialized all to hell. It’s fun to play, it’s fun to watch and it’s fun to talk about. How badly might it cripple the university to implement a team in the middle of its VCU 2020 money-spending extravaganza?

Football is very basic; it’s like basketball or baseball. It’s not ultimate Frisbee – it’s a “core sport.” It’s something that people would enjoy whether the team is good or not – whether VCU cashes in on it or not.

The way I see it, the timing couldn’t be better. The CAA is planning on starting up a football league right now, and even University of Richmond plans to switch into it from the Atlantic 10. With all this new competition, it would be exciting to see a VCU varsity football team jam itself right into the mix.

We’re the Rams, but we don’t ram anything. Soccer dodges all around people, causing fouls when they fall down, field hockey players aren’t allowed to check each other and the best violence I have ever seen at this school didn’t take place on any field.

We know VCU doesn’t want to be known for its athletics, but they advertise in Sports Illustrated. So we have great arts and medicine programs, but they try to pull kids into their basketball team – which is it, VCU?

It isn’t like a school can’t have a stellar athletics program and still specialize in certain fields. Virginia Tech specializes in engineering, and their football team rocks – it seems like VCU might be afraid of failure or rejection.

“What if the other schools don’t like us?” “Do you think we might win all our games?”

I believe the reason we don’t have a team is VCU is afraid to go into something if the decision-makers don’t believe they’ll come out ahead. They’re afraid to get a football team because they couldn’t give it their all, therefore it might suck. They’re not afraid to raise tuitions and spend that money buying up downtown Richmond though, because they can’t lose – just spend more money when it sucks to begin with.

We don’t want to go there

By Michael De Soto

Take a look around. By now you’ve probably realized (or should have) that VCU has no football team.

It should stay that way.

As far as I know, there’s no talk of VCU ever having one. But Galloway and I are arguing here for the hell of it. I think it’s only fair I disclose that before we get started.

Football teams are cash cows. They can bring a ton of money in, sure, but they can also suck a ton of it out. Good teams like our friends at Virginia and Virginia Tech obviously bring it in. For lesser teams at lesser Virginia schools (should I mention any names?), it’s obviously drain on the institution.

VCU can’t afford to start a team.

Beginning a football program can cost a bundle. And that’s not including the yearly costs to sustain the squad and build a stadium and practice facilities. According to the latest figures I have in my tiny cubicle, VCU spent nearly $9 million on its entire athletics program last year. I wouldn’t say VCU is short on cash, but clearly this institution has other financial priorities.

And that’s the way it should stay.

The U.S. educational system is already in such a state of decline, it would be shameful – immoral even – to divert funds from our academic programs to fund football.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about VCU is its tremendous medical and art schools. Football could fit in there somewhere if we tried hard enough, but frankly, Richmond doesn’t seem like the kind of place that could support another college team. The University of Richmond has already stolen their hearts.

And so let’s play house. What if we had a football team? Would they play as well as our field hockey team? Our field hockey team’s record is 4-15 and that, frankly, is an embarrassment to this school. However, it’s a low-profile embarrassment.

But if our football team did that, we’d be the laughing stock of the conference – of the state even.

And I assure you we would be that bad. New teams don’t have a sterling record when it comes to competitiveness. It takes years to get good.

Look at the expansion team Houston Texans. They have yet to have a winning record four years into their history. The Texans have money to waste on free agents. VCU doesn’t. We’d be worse.

If VCU ever gets the desire to bring football to campus, they should redirect that energy to the private sector. They should get behind some of Richmond’s more notorious financial gurus and bring an Arena Football League to town. Call them the Richmond Rams.

At least then our embarrassment could be the city’s embarrassment. Share the love, you know?

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