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Slaves to the NCAA?

August 10, 2011

Are College Players Slaves?

This month (August), The President of the NCAA, Mark Emmert  has invited a cluster of University Presidents on a retreat before the college football season begins.  His podium points are that the retreat is to discuss a range of issues, but the one that has people talking is the regular “infractions” that translate to athletes accepting moneys for performance.  So, he would like to discuss how they can reclaim the amateurity of the NCAA football and basketball rank and file.

It is in the best interest of the NCAA and the University system to keep things the way they are, because of the following:

  • The NCAA doesn’t have to pay players a salary or bonuses like they do the coaches for their performance, even though the game they play is the source of millions of dollars in revenue.
  • The NCAA, in partnership with the University, retains sole rights to generate dollars from product endorsement of team/player images and symbols.  The players do not get a dime.
  • The athletes maintain the roll of performer and entertainer, while students receive free attendance to games as a perk of their tuition.  Alumni receive this same entertainment for the dollars that they give back to the University, none of which go to the players.
  • Dollars made from the players’ performance are used to further improve the University’s athletic programs so that they can attract and retain better players in following years and make even more money.

However, these traditions are so disgustingly degrading to the players, that some of the them have called it “legalized slavery.”  It’s an appropriate comparison.  After all, University football programs make tens of millions of dollars per year on the backs of their players each year.  Isn’t it about time that the players were compensated for their hard work?  Many say absolutely!

I say bull shit!

College football is an incredible opportunity, one that allows professional training and preparation for a career that starts at a million dollars or more right out of college.  No other program, not even one with a degree attached, offers this kind of incentive.  On top of this amazing income potential, many are compensated with scholarships that can total upwards of $20,000 per year,  higher for out-of-state.  Add free room and board, another average $10k per hear.  Meal plan, $13-15K per year.  Not to mention travel incentives for family.  So, now we are looking at students who are being compensated roughly $45-75,000 per year and calling them slaves?

What other program does this?  It is argued of college football that no other program creates such wealth for the school, so it should be treated differently.   However this is not entirely true.  Scientific research grants have been allocated to schools that are valued in the millions.  From its construction in 1990 to current date, FSU’s Magnetic lab has received over $900 million in state and private funds according to FSU’s 2009 report.  Meanwhile post doctorate opportunities coming out of this program begin around $55,000 starting salary.  So, where is the cry of slavery for the students who do the research in such departments?  Should these students not also be getting a sip of the gravy?

It can be argued of college football that only 4% of division 1 college players go on to play for the NFL, but so what?  Those are usually the 4% who worked the hardest and wanted it the most.  That’s just the way life rolls.  Who wouldn’t take a 4% shot at that kind of paycheck, anyway?  At its base, the slavery argument doesn’t even apply to those college athletes who eventually reach the NFL.  It only applies to the ones who weren’t good enough to make the cut.  The same players they stop talking about the moment the draft is announced.

I love watching sports, but let’s face it, these contests are as worldly irrelevant as fennel or Go-bot action figures, and sports talk even more so.  Just let the kids play.  They wouldn’t be complaining if ESPN hadn’t forulated the question for them in the first place.  Being the 19-22 year old kids they are, they know they’ve got  a pretty sweet gig.  It would be a shame if all this false concern ruined the whole thing for them.  Come
on, just play ball!

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