There is a fashion in certain quarters these days to criticize the lavishness of student recreational facilities, and their effect on the cost of higher education. I confess to being a beneficiary of that lavishness (here at Baylor, the recreation facilities open to students are open to faculty and families at the same cost--indeed, typically, at no cost), as I live a five minute walk from the gym.
I think the criticism forgets something important: American colleges (and colleges more generally, probably going back to the middle ages) have traditionally been known for students engaging in entertainment that is unwholesome both physically and morally. This harms the moral education of students, and (at least derivatively) the intellectual education. Given this background, providing wholesome fun to the students seems to me to be at least instrumentally important to the educational mission of a university.