The adage “Life is not fair” is most often true. With Penn State’s first home game Saturday, this statement becomes more relevant for me as the parent of a Blue Band member. The band’s TailGreat show was canceled for “lack of funds,” an action that should be reversed in the name of fairness. The show, according to the official statement, costs $70,000.
But consider a base salary of $700,000, plus bonuses for the newly hired athletic director ($70,000 is 10 percent of her base salary); 800 student athletes given $300 iPads this year in addition to many other perks. That amounts to $240,000, more than three times the cost of the TailGreat shows.
Also, each student athlete gets four complementary tickets to all games, home or away. Due to the cost of tickets, some Blue Band members’ families can’t attend the game, so TailGreat is the only venue they get to see a performance. As one Blue Band member said, “This was for us, the only time some of us get to see our family. We are very upset, for all that we do and give to the game day performances, to have this taken away from us.”
While I understand the economics of how profitable the sports department is, especially the football program, why can’t some of that profit be shared? What kind of message does this send to Blue Band members, who devote not only many hours to their performances, but also pay to belong to the band?