TIME Business of Sports

Sports TV Broadcasting Hits New Highs … in Annoying Fans

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Jetta Productions—Getty Images

Lately, many sports fans who have tried to watch the Winter Olympics, or NCAA Final Four basketball, or the Atlanta Braves, or the Los Angeles Dodgers have been frustrated for a very basic reason.

They can’t find the !?#&*!? sporting event on TV.

On Saturday night, countless college basketball fans tuned in to CBS, hoping to watch the men’s Final Four March Madness tournament matchups of Wisconsin-vs.-Kentucky and Florida-vs.-Connecticut. Instead of basketball, viewers were treated to reruns of CBS dramas “Person of Interest” and “Criminal Minds.”

After some confusion, and perhaps some cursing and throwing of remotes, shoes, and cheese dip, previously unaware viewers discovered that for the first time since March Madness has been televised, the national semifinals weren’t shown on network TV. The back-to-back games, played on what’s often thought of the best night of the year for college basketball, were only broadcast on cable. On several cable channels, in fact, thanks to a curious arrangement with Turner Sports, in which TBS hosted the main broadcast, and sister channels TNT and TruTV showed the same game but with different local play-by-play announcers to cater to each team’s fan base.

In any event, the games weren’t on network TV. That was enough to ruin the night for cord cutters, i.e., folks who don’t have pay TV, who have also missed out on the tournament’s many other games shown only on TBS, TNT, or TruTV rather than CBS.

(MORE: Why Las Vegas Loves March Madness Way More Than the Super Bowl)

The arrangement did more than alienate the fairly sizeable portion of fans too cheap to have a pay TV package. Despite an onslaught of coverage telling folks that they games were on cable for the first time ever— according to Adweek, the campaign included digital billboards in subways, ads shown before films in theaters, promos on radio and TV, and a takeover of USAToday.com’s home page—the move to cable did some serious damage to TV ratings as well. Yes, when combined the trio of Turner Sports channels achieved a record high number of viewers for a non-football sporting event on cable, but the shift away from network broadcast also resulted in a multi-year low in ratings overall. The Associated Press reported that an average of 14 million viewers watched the games on Saturday night, down 11% from a year ago when they were shown on CBS. (TBS is in 14% fewer American homes than CBS.)

There’s no mystery as to why any of the parties involved would risk aggravating fans by showing the games on cable rather than CBS: Like so many things, it’s all about money.

CBS and Turner Sports are a few years into a 14-year, $10.8 billion partnership with the NCAA to air the March Madness tournament. One reason that TBS and its siblings agreed to the deal—thereby helping CBS from losing the tournament to ESPN and ABC—is that they were guaranteed the right to air some of the tournament’s premier high-ratings games, rather than just the earlier rounds.

More importantly, these networks, and the powers than be in general in sports and TV, are well aware that live sports is the largest reason many Americans continue to cut a check for a monthly pay TV bill. Time Warner, which owns TBS, TNT, TruTV, CNN, and many other cable networks (and, for a little while longer, Time Inc. and Time.com), obviously has great interest in keeping levels of cable-paying households high. They want cord cutting to hurt, or at least be difficult and impractical for sports fans to circumvent, and moving the Final Four to cable does just that.

(MORE: YouTube Is Going to Use TV to Destroy TV)

The Final Four broadcast is hardly the only example of how larger battles over money and TV rights are frustrating the lives and viewing habits of sports fans—perhaps turning some into former fans in the process. Four years ago, NBC Universal angered hockey fans and the hockey world in general by its decision to air some premier Olympic hockey games on cable rather than the main network. Likewise, fans were only able to view many events from the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi by watching them on cable (or streaming them online, only possible with a pay TV account). Of course, Comcast, the biggest player in pay TV, owns NBC Universal, so it makes a lot of sense to strategically broadcast in-demand sporting events in ways that push people to feel the monthly cable bill is still unavoidable, if not exactly well worth the money.

At 162 regular season games plus playoffs, Major League Baseball plays the most games of any pro sport, and therefore it has the most games aired on TV. But thanks to a trend kicked off largely by the advent of the Yankees-focused YES Network more than ten years ago, fans are increasingly likely to be forced to jump through hoops, or at least cough up extra cash, in order to tune in. For instance, an ongoing dispute between Fox Sports and Dish TV in Atlanta will result in some Braves fans being unable to watch nearly one-third of the team’s games this season.

Over in southern California, a huge brawl over Los Angeles Dodgers broadcasts pits the Dodgers-owed SportsNET LA network and its distributor, Time Warner Cable, on one side, and on the other, a range of pay TV providers such as Cox, Charter, and DirecTV, which so far are refusing to pay the high fees being demanded to include the channel in customer packages. Caught in the middle, of course, are the many fans who use other TV providers, and who often don’t live in areas where they could get SportsNET LA even if they wanted to pay for it.

(MORE: Hank Aaron Would Have Faced More Racism Today)

The result is an absurd scenario epitomized by a recent column from the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke, who on Dodgers opening day hit a handful of bars, as well as a taco shop, bowling alley, and a Burger King, trying—and failing—to find the game on TV. The deal the Dodgers cut for the rights to broadcast games is incredibly lucrative for the club. But as Plaschke warned the Dodgers, the money may come at the cost of quite a few fans. “Dodgers, ask your fans if they are willing to sacrifice watching the games on television for the sake of having the league’s richest team,” he wrote. “They would say no.”

Plaschke ran into one sports bar patron, who noted the irony of seeing Dodgers jerseys posted to the tavern’s wall and yet “they can’t even get the games,” he said. “At least everyone can still watch the Angels.”

For the time being anyway.

TIME Higher Education

Here’s How Many Students Could Save $50,000 on College—But Aren’t

The cost of not getting a college degree is rising, new study finds
The cost of not getting a college degree is rising, new study finds Getty Images

More colleges are allowing students to finish up their four-year degrees in just three years. But only a tiny percentage of students are taking advantage.

In 2012, Wesleyan University, an elite private college in Connecticut, became the highest-profile institution to actively promote an accelerated degree program, in which students could finish up college and get out into the “real world” after as little as three years of higher education. At the time, Wesleyan president Michael S. Roth wrote a guest op-ed for the Washington Post explaining that years prior, he had graduated from Wesleyan in three years, and he felt the benefits of such an option were enormous—among other things, he saved his family around $6,000, which was the cost of a year’s tuition when he was a student in the 1970s.

Because of a pricing model he described as “unsustainable,” Roth wrote that Wesleyan would immediately spread the word that the school’s current students could likewise finish up in three years, if they wanted:

The three-year option isn’t for everyone, but for those students who are prepared to develop their majors a little sooner, shorten their vacations by participating in summer sessions, and take advantage of the wealth of opportunities on campus, this more economical BA might be of genuine interest. In our case, allowing for some summer expenses, families would still save about 20 percent from the total bill for an undergraduate degree. At many private schools that would be around $50,000!

(MORE: After PBR: Will the Next Great Hipster Beer Please Stand Up?)

Over the weekend, the Boston Globe published a story about three-year degree options at Wesleyan and other schools. Roth is still a big fan of the idea, agreeing with the words of a previous Wesleyan president, who told students, “If you look back at your years at Wesleyan and say those were the best four years of your life, we failed you.”

Roth told the Globe that students who are ready to move on after three years of college should do so. “You shouldn’t stay here because this is your time to screw around and have a great time and then it’s going to be bad,” he said. “These should be the years that launch you into the world in a better way.”

The idea makes sense to many students who are seeking the most bang for their buck, and who are terrified with taking on crippling levels of college loans. So it’s understandable that the concept of a three-year degree is increasingly mentioned as a money-saving tactic for college students and their families. And yet very few students are actually graduating three years after starting college.

The Globe pointed to a Wesleyan dean’s estimate, forecasting that only a half-dozen or so of its students will earn their degrees via the three-year route next spring. Why so few? And why aren’t more students around the country jumping on what appears to be a quick, straightforward strategy for trimming college costs?

First off, it’s not necessarily easy to compile enough credits to graduate in three years. For majors such as nursing and engineering, which typically require extensive labs or clinical hours, earning a degree in three years is virtually impossible and often isn’t even allowed. Degrees in seemingly less intensive majors sometimes can’t be earned in three years either. “In majors like the performing arts, those skills can’t be rushed into a three-year format,” said a dean at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, explaining why it wasn’t possible for students in that major to finish in three years, per a Bankrate.com post on the pros and cons of accelerated programs.

(MORE: Student Loans Are Ruining Your Life. Now They’re Ruining the Economy Too)

Generally speaking, students in other majors must use AP credits earned in high school, and/or take summer sessions, and/or sign up for classes above and beyond the usual semester’s workload to try to finish up in three years. Not all students are up for the challenge. Heck, nationwide, less than half of students are able to earn enough credits to graduate in four years, let alone three.

What’s more, the majority of American colleges simply do not offer students the opportunity to graduate in three years. According to data cited in the Globe story, since 2009 only 19 private, nonprofit colleges have introduced three-year degree programs. More colleges are expected to get on board with the concept in the future, but the institutional embrace of the three-year degree will proceed slowly, and may not ever happen on a widespread level for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it obviously trims tuition and fees collected by colleges.

Colleges say that students should be extremely cautious in their pursuit of an accelerated degree. By speeding along through college, students increase the chances that they could pick the wrong major because they’re so hell-bent on graduating. They could also be shortchanged, the argument goes, on developing all-important life skills students are supposed to hone in college, such as critical thinking, teamwork, and problem solving.

Certainly, another factor holding back the three-year degree from becoming a larger trend is some level of disinterest among students. Not all that many students are eager to kill themselves by overloading on courses each semester. They may rather prefer to squeeze every moment of fun they can out of college—to, in fact, “screw around and have a great time” with their friends, as Wesleyan’s Roth put it. Making oneself miserable by rushing through college makes particularly little sense when you’ll graduate into a fairly lackluster jobs market.

(MORE: Student Loans Are Becoming a Drag on the U.S. Economy)

Perhaps most telling, by some account students’ parents, rather than students themselves, seem more interested in the idea of saving money via a three-year degree. “I’ve had parents ask me about the three-year degree with the sort of energy that sometimes the students don’t possess themselves,” Mary Coleman, a dean at Lesley University, in Cambridge, Mass., said to the Globe.

TIME Crime

100 Arrested After Santa Barbara Spring-Break Party Turns Violent

Near the University of California, Santa Barbara, a spring-break party turned serious when police sent tear gas into a rioting crowd and the festive atmosphere turned violent. More than 100 people were arrested throughout the day and evening, and 44 were hospitalized

A spring-break party near the University of California, Santa Barbara, descended into violence on Saturday as police showered crowds with tear gas.

More than 100 people were arrested throughout the course of the day and evening, and at least 44 people were hospitalized, CBS reports. The police deployed “chemical agents and less lethal foam projectiles” in order “to disperse the crowds,” according to a statement.

The incident began at 9:30 p.m. at an event that drew about 15,000 partyers, who vandalized street signs, lit small fires and damaged law-enforcement vehicles.

Six officers were injured, including a UC Santa Barbara officer who was hit in the back of the head with a backpack containing alcohol and a sheriff’s deputy who was hit in the face with a brick. At least 44 people were hospitalized.

[CBS News]

TIME

Teen Who Sued Her Parents Gets a $56,000 College Scholarship

High school senior Rachel Canning, 18, appears in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, N.J., on March 4, 2014.
High school senior Rachel Canning, 18, appears in Morris County Superior Court in Morristown, N.J., on March 4, 2014. Bob Karp—Daily Record/AP

College counselors, take note

Litigation might be an unconventional extracurricular activity, but that didn’t stand in Rachel Canning’s way of receiving a $56,000 college scholarship. In case that name doesn’t ring a bell, Canning is the made-for-reality-television teen who unsuccessfully sued her parents for child support after she ran away from home.

Canning, who ended up moving home after the unsuccessful lawsuit, posted on her Facebook that she would be attending Western New England University in Springfield, Massachusetts in the fall, and that she wouldn’t be going empty handed:

“Decision made. WNE U class of 2018 BME Major w/ 56,000$ scholarship,” she posted Saturday. It was removed by Tuesday.

In an email to USA Today, a WNEU spokesman said that merit scholarships run between $22,000 and $66,000 and are granted over the course of four years.

One of Canning’s main reasons for her lawsuit was that her parents were refusing to pay for her education if she didn’t abide by their rules. (She also accused her father of “inappropriate affection” and her mother of encouraging an unhealthy body image). Canning’s parents said that she moved out because she wouldn’t abide by their curfew or stop seeing a boyfriend they didn’t approve of. A judge thought that she was just “spoiled.”

College counselors, take note.

TIME Education

New York Teen Gets Accepted To All 8 Ivy League Schools

Kwasi Ennis is a 17-year-old first generation Ghanaian who plans on becoming a doctor

Getting into a single Ivy League school can be pretty difficult, but one Long Island teen beat the odds and got into every single one.

“By applying to all eight, I figured it would better the chances of getting into one,” 17-year-old Kwasi Enin told the New York Daily News. Instead, he got acceptance letters from all of the elite schools—Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Penn, Princeton, and Yale—which have acceptance rates ranging from Harvard’s 5.9% and Cornell’s 14%.

“It’s a big deal when we have students apply to one or two Ivies,” Enin’s guidance counselor Nancy Winkler told USA Today. “To get into one or two is huge. It was extraordinary.”

So what’s Enin’s winning formula? The first generation Ghanaian son of two immigrant nurses ranks 11th in his class of 647 at William Floyd High School and scored 2,250 out of 2,400 (the 99th percentile) on his SATs. He has taken 11 AP courses, sings at school, and volunteers at a local hospital’s radiology department. “I’m thinking of being a cardiologist or neurologist,” Enin told NY Daily News. “A doctor is a community leader, a protector, someone who people turn to … when they need help.”

Financial aid will play a big role in his decision making process — Princeton is leading the pack with a generous package, he told USA Today, but Columbia, Cornell, and Harvard still have to make an offer.

TIME U.S.

It’s Harder to Get a Job at Walmart Than It Is to Get Into Harvard

Harvard University
The campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. John Coletti / Getty Images

The Ivy League institution has an acceptance rate of 5.9%, but a recently opened Walmart in Washington D.C. only hired 2.6% of applicants

It’s pretty difficult to get accepted to Harvard, if you were unaware. This year, the elite institution admitted just 5.9% of applicants, according to newly released data.

Here’s the thing, though. Getting into Harvard is truly a piece of cake compared to getting accepted for a job at Walmart, at least according to data crunched by The Washington Post.

The Washington Post reports that when a new Walmart opened in D.C., 23,000 people vied for 600 job openings. That means just 2.6% were accepted. Compare that to Dartmouth’s 11.5%, Cornell’s 14%, University of Pennsylvania’s 10% and so on, and you’ll see that Walmart is way choosier than all the Ivy League institutions. Even Harvard. We repeat, even Harvard.

Sorry, Ivy Leaguers, but Walmart is officially a way more elite and exclusive club.

TIME Business of Sports

These March Madness Tickets Are Going for a Tiny Fraction of What They Should

College students can buy tickets for this weekend’s NCAA March Madness Final Four in Arlington, Texas, for just $40 apiece, a tiny fraction of the average seat price.

Will students turn around and flip their seats for profits of four, five, perhaps even ten or twenty times what they paid? Well, surely some will be tempted to do just that. After all, these are kids who will soon join the throngs that collectively owe $1 trillion in student loans. But it looks like the entrepreneurial students out there eager to make some cash on the secondary ticket market won’t be able to cash in.

The ticket sales operation for the University of Wisconsin Badgers, one of the four teams remaining in the NCAA tournament, spell out a long list of rules and requirements for those seeking to purchase Final Four seats at the student rate. “Students may only purchase one Final Four ticket,” is the first policy listed. And this one is the rule that makes it all but impossible for students hoping to sell their seats:

The credit card used to purchase tickets must be presented by the purchasing student to gain admission to AT&T Stadium, WITHOUT EXCEPTION. A credit card can only be used to purchase one student ticket, WITHOUT EXCEPTION. Students will also be required to present their WISCARD to gain admission into AT&T Stadium

The rules are the same for students at the three other schools in the Final Four, the University of Florida, the University of Connecticut, and the University of Kentucky. Students who are eligible to purchase seats at the $40 rate should have already received emails explaining how to proceed, and there’s a good chance all of the $40 tickets will be snatched up by Monday afternoon, if not sooner. For everyone else, the NCAA’s sales partner offers a host of pricey options, as do the universities, including travel packages running over $1,000 per person (sometimes not including tickets) and ticket packages for the upcoming semifinal and final game starting at $300, plus a fee of $10 or $15 per ticket. (Also available, curiously: foldable chairs used by UConn during the tournament for $150 apiece.)

Still, the $300 price for tickets is cheap compared to the going rate on the secondary market. The resale and ticket information site TiqIQ.com released data on Sunday indicating that the average price for “all sessions” tickets (entrance for both semifinal games on Saturday) was $1,367.55.

Tickets for the championship game on Monday night are cheaper, averaging $614 of late, with the cheapest “get-in” price going for $118, though of course at this point it’s impossible to know which teams will be playing in the game. As with most sporting events, it appears wise to wait to buy, as it’s expected prices will go down as game day nears. For the last three NCAA championship games, the average ticket price wound up under $500, and the cheap seats sold for under $100, according to TiqIQ.

TIME Sports

They March With Madness: An Ode to the Irreverent, Incredible Stanford Band

A brief explainer regarding what makes the Stanford Band truly unique

The Stanford band has a saying that the band always wins. Unfortunately Stanford’s male basketball team didn’t have the same mantra in Thursday’s Sweet 16 game.

While the Cardinal’s reign was cut short, the band is continuing its moment of internet notoriety for its irreverent persona. Band members went viral earlier this week for false rumors of smuggled alcohol via tubas and this masterpiece of raw human emotion:

A fascinated Jimmy Kimmel even flew out Alex Chang, the 22-year-old engineering major, to enthusiastically play the cowbell with his late night band.

Every so often, the world gets a quick glimpse at the irreverent madness that is the fishermen hat donning Stanford band and is surprised by how dissimilar they are to their stiffly choreographed, wind-up marching band doll counterparts. To Stanford students, the weird quirks, costumes (or lack thereof.. they notoriously embrace nudity), and antics are a prerequisite for band members (disclosure: I’m a Stanford alum).

“If you’re weird, that’s celebrated that’s the norm,” Nicoletta von Heidegger, the infamous Tree mascot from 2012-13, told TIME. “And there’s always someone weirder than you are.”

But Will Funk, who currently plays the Tree, says that this weirdness often confuses onlookers. “People come up to me all the time and are just like, ‘Why?'” the 20-year-old Science Technology and Society major said. Thus, to clear up any confusion, here is a brief explainer regarding what makes the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB) truly unique:

Musical talent isn’t required
Kimmel asked Chang, a self-identified percussionist, if playing the cowbell was a demotion. This is a silly question since the band doesn’t require anyone to know how to play any instrument. Non-musicians who join the 150 person group get thrown something to bang on or blow into. This lends itself to a drumline made up of football helmets, high chairs, and a literal kitchen sink. “My mom’s favorite is the stop signs,” Funk said.

They wear everything… and nothing
My first memory of the Stanford band as a student involved a lot of nudity. But they also embrace “rally gear” and go to games in attention grabbing costumes.

These costumes can get them in trouble. Like at Notre Dame in 1991, when the drum major dressed as a nun and conducted the band with a cross (while “pregnant”), and again in 1997 when a band members dressed as a Cardinal and the devil had a fight on the field.

They are a marching band that doesn’t march
As of 1963, they became a “scatter” band. That means they run wildly to form ridiculous shapes—like the Snapchat logo during the 2014 Rose Bowl—to ridiculous scripts.

This provides a hilarious juxtaposition to more militaristic bands.

They sometimes take things a little too far
Stanford couldn’t go back to BYU after a 2004 halftime show, in which the band manager proposed to all five Dollies (the band’s dancers) as the announcer celebrated the “sacred bond that exists between a man and a woman… and a woman… and a woman… and a woman… and a woman.” The governor of Oregon even tried to get Stanford banned from the state after the band did a 1990 halftime show criticizing the logging industry for ruining the spotted owl’s habitat.

Things have tamed down since the days when the band drove a white Ford Bronco with bloody handprints around the Stanford Stadium track in 1994 in a game against USC—earlier that season some members played The Zombies’ She’s Not There outside the L.A. County Courthouse during jury selection for the O.J. Simpson murder trial. The band has adjusted and become less caustic in recent years. For the 2013 Rose Bowl against Wisconsin, for example, the “scatter” routine consisted of cheese jokes.

Band members have ridiculous nicknames
Band members with nicknames like “Big Dickosaurus,” “Bollox” and “Donkey Fluffer” competed for the coveted role of Stanford Tree when I was on campus.

FBC-ORANGEBOWL
Miami Herald / Getty Images

Some people literally eat live snakes to become the Tree mascot
The process to become the high profile Stanford Tree, in which ambitious students compete for the band and campus’ approval during “Tree Week” is truly insane.

Von Heidegger won her post by galloping through campus on horseback, constructing a giant 24 by 14 ft seasaw, playing a game of human Pac Man (ghosts tackled her), and “playing a game of lube wrestling on one of the lawns on a day that happened to coincide with parents weekend,” she said. “It was probably a poor choice on my side.”

Funk, the current tree, did a strip tease down to a thong in one of the main fountains, “and I had friends pour different liquids on myself like water, ice, milk, people threw eggs on me which I washed off with old nasty beer and two jugs of maple syrup.” Urine might have also been involved in the process.

And that’s just the start of it. While I was at Stanford, one nominee drank a Bloody Mary made out of his own blood. One nominee had a friend waterboard him in public—he was running on a human rights ticket. A friend was disqualified for eating a live snake to prove his worth. The few rules include no fire, no electrocution, to excessive bodily harm, and nothing illegal.

The band always wins
Regardless of the outcome of March Madness, or any game, LSJUMB has a saying that the band always wins.

UPDATE: This story was revised to reflect the the result of Thursday’s game.

Disclosure: The writer attended Stanford University.

TIME Pop Culture

Miley 101: In Defense of College Classes About Celebs

Miley Cyrus Bangerz Tour In Miami
Miley Cyrus performs on March 22, 2014, in Miami Larry Marano / Getty Images

Don't forget to do your home-twerk

Some college classes exist for obvious reasons. Math, Mandarin, molecular biology… and Miley?

When Complex discovered that Skidmore College — one of America’s most expensive private colleges — would be offering “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus” during this year’s summer session, the reaction was one likely to be shared by many: taking such a class would be “wasting your parents’ money.”

It’s the same contemptuous reaction that often comes out when a college announces a new class about someone more likely to show up in Us than at a university. The Telegraph deemed a Rutgers class about Beyoncé “ridiculous” and in 2011, an opinion writer for the Georgetown student paper derided a class about Jay Z as “poppycock,” according to USA Today. The University of Amsterdam’s 1997 class about Madonna even drew incredulous television crews:

But while a controversial pop star like Miley Cyrus doesn’t exactly scream ivory tower, there’s no reason to assume such a class would be any more wasteful than any other sociology course — and, in some ways, it may be better.

For one thing, the course description (via a tweeted flyer, linked by Complex) makes clear that the course isn’t so much about Cyrus as it is about other sociological topics — gender, sexuality, intersectionality, appropriation — that can be illustrated by the singer. This isn’t the first time a controversial star has been used to that effect. In 2010, the University of South Carolina did the same with Lady Gaga; the Washington Post jokingly headlined an article about it “OMG,” but as with the Cyrus class, the syllabus wasn’t a gag. The school’s announcement of the class noted that it would focus on “relevant elements of the societal context of Lady Gaga’s rise to fame” and that the professor hoped that using a popular star to teach those topics would make them less “boring.”

That’s another point in favor of pop sociology: the Jay-Z class was reportedly one of Georgetown’s most popular courses that semester, which goes to show that celebs can successfully engage students about subjects in which they might otherwise have little interest. Some Cyrus-loving student who hasn’t yet picked his major might discover that he loves sociology, too. And who knows — if that leads him to Skidmore’s much less interestingly named top-level sociology classes (“Racial Identities: Theory and Praxis,” anymore?) and then to a career as a leading researcher in the field, it might all be thanks to Bangerz.

And the reasons to use someone like Cyrus to teach sociology go beyond getting students in the door. Primary sources — material produced by the person being studied or in the time period under consideration, rather than by someone thinking about the subject later — are a cornerstone of good academic practice. Cyrus’ impact on society is only a few years old, and most of it has been documented online, so pretty much every primary source is easily available to study and interpret.

Sure, a professor could teach a less popular class about the celebrity of Charles Dickens or Franz Liszt, using mostly secondary sources, and there would probably be far less backlash. There would be certain advantages to such a class, namely the distance provided by history. It seems unlikely, at this point, that we’ll look back in a hundred years and see Miley Cyrus as the a Liszt-level artist or even a Dickens-level famous person; when a century passes, she may no longer seem like the best example of what that aspect of our culture was like around the year 2013. (Not that the idea of a Beyoncé class being offered at every school in the world in 2114 seems particularly farfetched.) For now, however, she’s one of the most useful prisms through which to view society.

So Skidmore students shouldn’t feel bad about enrolling — and if their parents doubt it, those students will be able to bring in well-founded sociological evidence like a wrecking ball.

TIME facebook

These Are the Top 10 Places College Students Are Going for Spring Break

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Ferran Traite Soler /Getty Images

Also known as "places to avoid if you're not in college"

As the East Coast prepares for another winter storm, college students across the country are chugging Smirnoff ices on the beach. Because Spring Break forever, y’all. And for those who want to know where to find the largest mass of Spring Break activity right now, Facebook’s got you covered.

The social network compiled a list of the top 10 beach cities that 18-24 year-olds are currently checking into based on an increased volume of check-ins relative to last month. Here are the most popular spots:

  1. Panama City Beach, FL
  2. Santa Monica Beach, CA
  3. South Beach, FL
  4. Gulf Shores Beach, AL
  5. Port Aransas, TX
  6. Main Beach (Santa Cruz), CA
  7. Venice Beach, CA
  8. Fort Myers Beach, FL
  9. Cocoa Beach, FL
  10. Mission Beach, CA

The 25 and older crowd opted for a slightly different scene:

  1. Myrtle Beach, SC
  2. Main Beach (Santa Cruz), CA
  3. Santa Monica Beach, CA
  4. South Beach, FL
  5. Jupiter Beach, FL
  6. Orange Beach, AL
  7. Banana Bend Beach, TX
  8. Huntington Beach, CA
  9. Long Beach, CA
  10. Newport Beach, CA

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