How would the EU change if American football were introduced?

After rumors and years of deliberation, it’s official. Eastern University will introduce football to its athletics department. In an email from the President’s office, President Ron Matthews detailed the expansion of EU Athletics.

“We will begin team recruiting efforts for fall 2022 and plan to attend the NCAA III MAC conference by fall 2023,” the email statement read. The EU also said it plans to work with the Valley Forge Military Academy to use and modernize its facilities, including the football field and changing rooms.

What does this addition mean for the current Eastern University community? Perhaps introducing football to a school with less than 2,000 students will increase enrollment. Football teams are great; the NCAA limits rosters to 110 during the offseason, but teams may have more during the season. This could be beneficial not only for more students to have the opportunity to enroll in college, but because more students increase the amount of recognition the East would receive. 10 of the 18 Mid-Atlantic Conference institutions have college football teams. If Eastern were added to this list, it would have the chance to present itself as a powerhouse in MAC conferences. With the popularity of college football, Eastern would gain fame and possibly fortune.

On the contrary, a downside to enrolling more students is the abandonment of one of Eastern’s main selling points: their 10: 1 student-to-faculty ratio. With the addition of not only a soccer team, but also students who are more attracted to school because of the soccer team, that number could increase to 20: 1 or even 30: 1. Bigger classes and less personal attention in those classes could result. This would deter students who prefer close interaction with the teacher away from Eastern.

Many students choose Eastern University not only for its small class size, but also for its quaint little campus. With the introduction of football and more students, more space will be needed. Parking lots should be added to compensate for the influx of new recruits and more students, as more and more students seem to bring their cars to campus each year (and residence parking spaces are already quite limited). Additional accommodation may need to be provided to compensate for the influx of freshmen, transfers and now new sports members. The campus would go from quaint and connected to bigger, busier and perhaps noisier.

Additionally, although the Valley Forge facilities are only three minutes away, students will not be able to walk 5 minutes to Olson Field or the gymnasium to watch a game. Students who do not have a car will find it difficult to become involved in the student experience during football games, as the facilities are off campus. The advantage of the EU domains being so central around the campus is that there is immediate access for students to the campus. It is easy for students to attend games and support their school.

President Matthews said in his email that the EU hopes to “spark school spirit, more campus events, increased enrollment opportunities and different experiences for our student body” with the adding not only football but also joy, dancing and support group. It is not known whether these hopes will be received positively or negatively by the Eastern University community, but the university’s mission of faith, reason and justice must continue to move forward. Despite the changes that can happen to Eastern, the school is still rooted in its core values, which should be championed and represented by students, athletes and faculty.

Sources: MAC Sports, Marketplace, NCSA Sports, Office of the President of Eastern University

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About Betty J. Snyder

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