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Is College Football Good for Education?

For some parts of the country, fall is marked by changing leaves, cooling temperatures, and pumpkin spice lattes, but, in Alabama, fall is marked by football season. When people think of going to a university in Alabama, football is often the first thing they think of and, while we would be remiss not to recognize the value football brings across the state, we can also view other exciting fall events that are kicking off across the state.

Keeping Score

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Football is fun. Anyone who has participated in the rivalry and school spirit can tell you that football in Alabama is about way more than just the hard and fast numbers - it’s about community, teamwork, and fun. But for the more serious among us, we thought we’d start off with a little back story on the so-called score between college football and economic benefits.

Sure, you might be able to guess that big names in College Football like Auburn University and the University of Alabama might have some pretty big dollar signs behind their names. In fact, those two teams alone bring an estimated $500 million economic impact to the state. But, if you only factored in those two schools, your game predictions would be missing some key information - after all, those are just two of the teams out of the 14 amazing universities across the state. Other Alabama universities have also made huge contributions through their football teams. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s recently reinstated football team has secured a Championship title in their division and won a bowl game and at the University of South Alabama, an impressive new football stadium is being built to house their games and other attractions to the Mobile area. Troy University, Jacksonville State University, Alabama A&M, Alabama State University, the University of West Alabama and the University of North Alabama are a few other schools with football teams and rivalries to keep Saturdays full of a little healthy competition. Of course, each of the 14 public universities has athletic and non-athletic competitions that their institutions sponsor. The truth is that all of the universities have opportunities in which their students can engage, their instructors and coaches can prepare and their alums can be proud. The story of the value of competition is about more than football, but in the south… football is a dominant force.

Who Wins?

Unlike a football game, on this scoreboard, everyone wins. The economic development opportunities created by stellar football teams, like the ones across the state of Alabama, drive revenue back into the state. This is key to higher education opportunities because the Education Trust Fund (ETF) Budget relies on funds from sales tax. Sales tax, in turn, relies on funds from consumers - that means we need more football fans! The best way to create college football fans is to increase the number of college students and college graduates. Not only does this give some true institutional allegiance to a football team pick, but a college degree also increases earning potential by over $1 million dollars over the course of a graduate's life. A Bachelor’s degree alone can increase earnings for an individual by 75 percent annually. For more information about how an increase in higher education could affect individuals or the state as a whole, check out the data in our resource guide.

What can I do to support the team?

We’re so glad you asked! If you’re cheering for your favorite school or university this season and want to take it a little further, consider cheering them all the way to the statehouse - tailgate food and gameday gear are optional. You wouldn’t miss any of the stats for your team, so follow along through our newsletters and social media to stay up to date about what’s happening in higher education news. Write or call your representative to remind them about the difference that higher education has made in your life and across the state or contact us to learn more about ways you can advocate or share your story.

You may have heard that Alabama universities are just football schools, but we know better - Universities in Alabama might mark fall with the return of football, but they do so much more to prepare students and our state for success. No matter who you cheer for, a win in higher education is a win for all Alabamians.


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