Heavy Lifting - thoughts and web finds by an economist
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Friday, August 27, 2004
Last night my better half commented on the number of Olympic athletes competing for other countries yet going or having gone to college in the United States. Why is there no outrage about displaced U.S. swimmers, divers, and sprinters? Most likely no one cares about displaced U.S. swimmers, divers, and sprinters - not a lot of good sob-stories there - or the activists haven't thought about it and are prepared to protest if given the chance.
The announcers haven't mentioned how many Russians, Panamanians, and so forth, have gone to school in France or Germany. Perhaps there are many, but more likely there are few.
Our higher education is the best in the world, just about every school has a track team or a swimming team. What better way to get a free education in the United States than to have a swimming or diving or track scholarship? Given a choice between going to school in the United States versus Germany, most likely the U.S. is preferred (not for everyone obviously). Therefore, the best of the best in other countries who want to go to college come here to the United States.
The importing of student athletes, especially if they are granted a scholarship, but even if they are not, shows how small-d democratic our higher education system is, how generous we are to foreign-nationals, and how, evidently, we do not have enough high quality swimmers and sprinters to fully populate the available slots on college teams. However, foreign student-athletes would be expected to improve the quality of play in these various sports - it isn't exciting to see people running the 100m dash in 20 seconds or more.
So, outside of the fact that the out-of-shape "athlete" who runs a ten minute mile doesn't get a scholarship to run track at his favorite school, importing student athletes seems to be a win-win situation.
Where there are labor shortages, employers (in this case schools) will cast a wider net for possible employees (in this case student athletes). As a counter-point, notice that schools don't have to, and perhaps cannot, import foreign-national running backs and point guards.
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