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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


The cost of family

Ashlee Salamon
Ashlee Salamon / Arizona Daily Wildcat Clark Edison Anderson 6, Matthew Bristol 10, and Andy Trujillo Firefighter 54 get ready to check out other tailgating spots in their spirited wagon.

$1.6 million. That’s approximately how much money Arizona men’s basketball coach Sean Miller is budgeted to make each year of his new contract.

$685,288: Head football coach Mike Stoops’ salary for 2009.

Spend a week on a college campus and you’re bound to hear mumbling and grumbling over coaches’ salaries.

But Family Weekend is a perfect example of why, even in a recession, universities can pay their athletic coaches ridiculous amounts of money.

Don’t follow? It’s not just American culture that’s sports-driven, allowing athletics departments the freedom to stuff cash into coaches’ pockets.

Sports propagate unity, give people something to talk about and fill communities with pride, love, sadness, hate, fear and everything in between. And more microcosmically, sports bring families together.

Parents: remember those times when you’d play catch with your little one at the park or see the excitement on a young one’s face when, on their birthday, you bought them tickets to a professional basketball or football game?

It’s not only the guilty pleasure of being the “”cool”” parent that makes those moments great — it’s parents’ own excitement, as well. Planning a special evening with the family is what makes a parent’s heart warm.

All because of a ball and some players on a grass field.

When parents head to Arizona Stadium with their now-grown-up children tomorrow afternoon, memories will come flooding back. The younger generations will reminisce over their fathers teaching them how to throw a ball. Parents might tell stories about shuttling their children to soccer practice every day, bringing juice boxes and cookies to the kids after their games.

Both parents and students will have something to chat about while watching the game, too. Hell, what else do a parent and a child talk about anymore, other than the occasional, “”You need to get your grades together/My teacher hates me, I can’t do anything about it,”” conversation?

Even students who don’t watch sports will use this opportunity to walk around campus, visit with and show their parents a little of their lifestyle at the UA. Their elders are sure to get a kick out of that.

All because of a silly little game called football.

And that’s why athletic teams shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the best coach and fund the nicest facilities. Without a structured athletic program, there is no Family Weekend, and thus, no unity.

At a university, there is no community without sports, only class in between the drive there and the drive back. That’s no way to bring together a school, nor a reason to invite all of the students’ parents into their children’s lives for a weekend.

If anything, this weekend — which is based around a football game — has given both parents and students the opportunity to forget about their jobs or their classes. It’s given everyone the privilege of spending time with their loved ones.

That’s worth $1.6 million.

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