Drake Football and Service Learning

Naomi Schaefer Riley does not like Drake University’s plans to take its football team to Africa to play a football game, learn about leadership, and build a local orphanage.  Riley thinks the project is a “waste of money” and she calls it “higher education gobbledy-gook.”  Here is a description of Drake’s program:

Drake University’s football team will travel to Tanzania next month to play what many believe will be the first intercollegiate American football game ever on the continent of Africa. On May 21, the Bulldogs will play a game in the town of Arusha, on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro, against a team of all-star American football players from an athletic conference of Mexican universities. After the game, the football players will do community service projects in and around Moshi—including building an addition to a local orphanage—stage a football clinic for local youth, and climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as teams. All the while, Drake’s football players will be taking a for-credit course on leadership and emotional intelligence with top faculty.

Granted, the trip will cost the university $4000 per person and there is no guarantee that it will have the desired effect on the players, but I think Drake should be commended for this program.  How many big-time college football teams are doing these kinds of things?  How many big-time athletic programs cater to the social and leadership development of their players in this way?  Kudos to Drake.

3 thoughts on “Drake Football and Service Learning

  1. Well, I guess Naomi Schaefer Riley has done the safe, smart thing with this article. She has taken a lot of heat from Chronicle commentors lately, but now she is appealing to that widespread residual resentment which unites many academics in a shared sense of outrage at the frivolous irrelevance and wasteful expense of college sports. This is going for low-hanging fruit, and rotten fruit at that.

    Good for Drake for spending money on an experience for its players which will no doubt be educational and could be transformational.

    And good for Drake for having a football team.


  2. Drake is a D-1 school, but it plays football in the same conference as Valpo, so I'm not sure it qualifies as a “big-time” athletic program. It hasn't made the local Iowa news yet, but it sounds like an intriguing concept.


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