Fans of the Arkansas State Red Wolves have been itching to play the Razorbacks since they were still Indians. This has been — and will probably continue to be — a great debate in Arkansas.
However, some representatives from the Arkansas legislature are trying to take a legal approach to this debate.
Rep. Harold Copenhaver (D-Jonesboro) and Rep. Andy Mayberry (R-East End) have a bill they would like to put forth for a vote that would mandate both schools to meet in a benefit game, with at least $250,000 in proceeds going to a charity chosen by the voters.
They have a website for those interested to vote, arkansasasubenefit.com, and as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, 8267 votes had been cast and 55.5 percent were in favor of the benefit game.
There were 5531 votes on which group should receive the proceeds, and 71.6 percent of votes went to the Arkansas Children’s Hospital.
Other institutions on the poll are the Arkansas Veteran’s Home (13.7 percent), War Memorial Stadium (7.1 percent), the Little Rock Zoo (6.2 percent) and Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (1.5 percent).
Voting ends midnight Saturday, according to the site.
According to House Bill 2274, “the athletic administration of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and the Arkansas State University at Jonesboro shall cause their respective NCAA varsity football teams to play each other... in one regular season football game at War Memorial Stadium.”
I have a very big problem with this bill, and it has a lot to do with my views of sports.
Please don’t misunderstand; I support charities often. I think charities are important and people should put aside money for philanthropies and good causes.
But I don’t think the Arkansas Legislature should have any say on sports.
Surely, the elected officials could try to pass legislation to fix the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship rather than decrease it.
Surely, they could increase the funds they provide to state universities so that tuition didn’t have to increase each year.
But alas, they would rather put their leg-work into a football game.
Football is one of my greatest joys, and it is a wonderful thing that a charity could benefit from sports. However, I think the match-up should be in the hands of the respective institutions.
Each athletic department should be in charge of its own schedule. If the programs decide that it would be mutually beneficial to play a regular season football game, then by all means, let it happens.
This should not be something left to legislators, who do not think in terms of boosting the status of athletic programs.
What good would it do for the Razorbacks to rout the Red Wolves the way they routed the Missouri State Bears in 2011? And in the reverse, what good would it do for the Red Wolves to pull off a fourth quarter upset like ULM did to Arkansas in 2012?
It would be a shining win on Arkansas State’s record, but they are still in the Sun Belt Conference, and they cannot hope to greatly improve their program without changing conferences.
Stop the madness, Arkansas Legislature. Leave the football up to the institutions and get back to passing laws that would improve the state.
Kristen Coppola is the sports editor for the Arkansas Traveler. Her column appears every Thursday. Follow the sports section on Twitter @UATravSports.