I am not familiar with the ins and outs of the U.S. public education system or the university system, or exactly how policy, politics and public opinion have brought those systems to the point where they are at today, but most of the people involved seem to be intelligent, rational people and so it's strange to me that "education" has been reduced to "putting asses in seats" and issuing diplomas.
Knowledge is a commodity too and I think it should be treated as such. Entertainment is of course, a commodity, but I don't think it should be intertwined with education.
A friend of mine and I recently got into a discussion that turned into an argument over the issue of college sports and whether or not college athletes should be paid. He argued that since those athletes had to sacrifice their time and energy to reach a high level of athletic achievement that draws in a lot of revenue for universities and colleges, that it's only reasonable that they get paid, especially since the career of an athlete is relatively short and can greatly impact the quality of a person's health in their later years.
Though I can see where he's coming from, it seems to me that if college athletes are paid, then they are then professional athletes and should not be associated with colleges and universities. I understand that universities need money so that they can fund research and provide better service to their customers, but it really seems like many institutions simply function as businesses rather than institutions of learning, which to me is a huge disservice to their customers.
I'm sure that there's more to it than that and that I could be better versed in the matter before making sweeping statements, but after working in for-profit education, the operation of educational establishments as businesses tends to sell hope for the future and under deliver on results, which is part of the reason I don't want to be part of it anymore.
But back to sports. Sports are games. Let's send people to into space instead of spending billions of dollars on hundreds of hours of air time with very little action. I bet watching the first manned Mars landing would feel a million times better than watching every bowl game.