Rhetorical Analysis of Laura Pappano’s “How Big-Time Sports Ate College Life”

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Roderick Hooks

EN 106


Rhetorical Analysis of Laura Pappano’s “How Big-Time Sports Ate College Life”

It is so unfortunate that the time for reserving and separating the appendages of basketball and football in colleges and universities in America is probably way past. In her article, “How Big-Time Sports Ate College Life,” Laura Pappano contends that the primary focus for universities in America encircles sports rather than education. Pappano wrote this against an escalated controversy of the commercialization of sports by universities in America. Throughout her article, Pappano builds her credibility in the article using persuasive facts, statistics, and real-life examples to demonstrate how ignorantly American universities are devoted to sports, which negatively impacts education.

In her article, Pappano has brought forward a claim that sports have taken over the campus. She cited facts on how universities in America have exploited a substantive amount of their resources to sports. Starting with providing examples to justify that claim using logos, Pappano demonstrates how America televises games to the extent of repealing class time to put up with sports schedules on television. She gave the example of the University of Central Florida, which repealed a class to watch a game against the University of Tulsa on the television (Pappano 423). To further justify her claims of sports taking over education, in terms of costs and builds a logos appeal by bringing out the facts and statistics to convince the reader. She has highlighted the financial resources or costs set aside for sports, where she exemplifies the Knight Commission report of 2010, which brought out that in 2009, the ten leading expenditures in the athlete department amounted to a median of $98 million (Pappano 419). Pappano intends to bring the reader into contention about how much is spent on sports. However, she overlooks the cost of education. She appeals to logos again by bringing out facts by citing Glenn R. Waddell as proof of how the involvement of the players in the school’s sport’s team impacts their academic performance.

Like she applies the logos, Pappano also applies ethos to allow her evidence to tug the conscience of her readers to build her character. One way in which Pappano builds her character is by citing renowned professors like Glenn R. Waddell. From the information she acquires from the professor, who compared more than 29,700 student transcripts starting 1999 to 2007 against the win-loss records of Oregon (Pappano 419), Pappano brings reliable convincing facts that “For every three games won, grade-point average for men dropped 0.02” (Pappano 419). Pappano, to prove that sports impacted performance and behavior of students at schools, uses Dr. Clotfelter’s claims that “Big-time sports” have a real effect on the way people in universities behave.” (419). The facts and detailed information she highlights establish an appeal to the logos and thus impressing readers that the issue is worth looking into.

The authors also create a pathos appeal in her attempt to convince the reader that other developed nations like China prioritize education yet still a powerful nation. She exemplifies a powerful country like China that demonstrate a contrast on the culture and beliefs about academic performance and education in America. She justifies that by the statement, “In China and other parts of the world, there are no gigantic stadiums in the middle of campus. There is a laser focus on education as being the major thing. In the United States, we play football.” (Pappano 418) This is a pathos appeal because it tends to stir up a feeling of disbelief. Pappano wants people to believe that education is more important than sports.

Pappano’s article has one notable fault. Pappano is biased as she only considers proving the negative side of university sports, stating that the only benefit for sports is bringing the students together. She states, “It’s become so important on the college campus that it’s one of the only ways the student body knows how to come together,” (Pappano 418). Everything has its pros and cons, and a one-sided argument would be a depiction of bias. Pappano would have, therefore, tried to state some of the benefits associated with involving ion sports in universities and colleges.

Overall, Pappano establishes a strong claim on why it is beneficial for universities to consider and prioritize education than sports. She highlights credible facts and statistics that the reader and universities may apply in deciding how to share resources between education and sports. Overall, Pappano is an effective writer who has shown to effectively apply the logos, ethos, and pathos to ensure that she drives her point home by effectively appealing to the reader’s conscience and mind in spite of raising a one-sided argument that views sport in universities as purely negative.


Works Cited

Pappano, L. (2018). How big-time sports ate college life, In S. Greene, & A. Lidinsky, (4th ed.) From Inquiry to Academic Writing (pp. 416-426). Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s

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