Tag Archives: College Sports

More on College Athletes

I wrote recently about the NCAA’s exploitation of college athletes, and on that topic we have Huff Po’s Leo W. Gerard first on the fragile nature of the athletic scholarship …

No, it’s that just like broken down greyhounds, injured college players often are tossed aside. Of course, a college can’t euthanize a ball player whose injury renders him unable to resume play or whose grades disqualify him — at least not the way a race track can put down an injured dog.
What universities can do is kill players’ dreams. And they do.

Over the past year, 169 players have “disappeared” from the rosters of the teams in the men’s basketball tournament. The National College Players Association, which is supported by the United Steelworkers, compared the 2007-08 rosters to the current ones and noted the missing players.

And then on the inadequacy of those scholarships …

In addition, a second National College Players Association study found that players also suffer because the NCAA prohibits universities from providing athletic scholarships that equal the cost of attendance. That means athletes, often from impoverished backgrounds, are expected to pay out-of-pocket for expenses not covered by what was described to them and their families as “full” scholarships. The study found the average cost to the athletes is $2,763 a year, but it’s as high as $6,000.

The NCAA needs to spend more on scholarships from the $545 million it receives each year from CBS Sports for the right to televise the men’s basketball tournament. The NCAA must end the prohibition on full scholarships, and the scholarships must be awarded for five years, an athlete’s typical length of stay.

Gerard is absolutely right, and his prescriptions strike me as sensible and tenable. Now here’s Dave Zirin on how to compensate college athletes:

Here’s one way to do it. Set aside a fraction of the revenue the tournament generates. Put it into a trust for players to have access to when they turn, say, 25 years old. Then, put restrictions on the trust – so student-athletes can use it to continue their education.

Yes, some of the kids in the tournament – a tiny fraction – are headed to the pros, and will be just fine financially. But the rest, many of them low-income, are dedicating time, risking injury and compromising their studies while generating millions.

What if they went on strike?

I see nothing wrong with Zirin’s idea, although it’s one that’s been floated before by many others. I’d also make access to the trust dependent upon the player’sgraduation–provided, of course, the university deigns to honor his scholarship.

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College Football Will Know Orrin Hatch by the Trail of Dead

Fightin’ Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), whose home-state Utah Utes were shut out of the national-championship discussion last season, will soon introduce legislation to do away with the Bowl Championship Series:

“As I have said before, the BCS system is anti-competitive, unfair and un-American. I am looking forward to exploring what legislative remedies might be applied to fix a system that violates our nation’s antitrust laws by placing non-BCS universities at a serious competitive disadvantage.”

Normally, I’d object to this kind of transparent pandering, but I’m prepared to swallow my principles if it leads to a playoff system in college football. My only regret? That the certifiable Zell Miller is no longer around to challenge the BCS computer to pistols at dawn …

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The Plight of the College Athlete

Irvin Muchnick in BeyondChron provides a necessary reminder of the business of NCAA scholarships:

Most fans mistakenly believe athletic “scholarships” – the very word is an Orwellian perversion – have four-year terms. Not so, Huma points out: “The NCAA only allows year-to-year scholarships. At the end of a scholarship year, a coach can take the scholarship away from a player for any reason, including permanent injury.” You can’t accuse them of reneging; the agreement is explicitly worded to permit the institution, at its sole discretion and convenience, to yank the scholarship out from under the recipient like a hook rug.

For whatever reason, the exploitation of the college athlete tends to pass under the radar. Keep in mind that college athletics is wildly profitable–consider, for instance, the 2007-08 budgeted revenues reported by the NCAA:

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Misplaced Populism and the Final Four

Here’s a great piece from Daniel Howes of the Detroit News on how the post-bailout national mood is making things difficult for event sponsors–especially those sponsoring the Final Four in Detroit. Nut graph:

Are the dollars that Comerica Inc. or GM — both TARP recipients — committed and paid more than a year ago to support the local Final Four committee “taxpayer” dollars? No, but given the AIG-fueled hysteria of the past few days and Washington’s reaction to it, would the facts matter?

Probably not as much as you’d think. Here we have yet another example of the law of unintended consequences run amok: A marquee event that will showcase Detroit and could prove a good marketing opportunity for corporate sponsors instead becomes a nerve-wracking weekend that can’t be over soon enough.

I’ve said this before, but there’s nothing untoward about sponsorships, even when a TARP recipient is footing the bill. It’s advertising–a legitimate business expense. It’s not a Dennis Kozlowski toga party. It bears repeating: the fact that certain businesses are now on the dole doesn’t mean we want them to stop functioning as businesses.

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The Loyal Opposition

Turned off by all the hype surrounding President Obama’s NCAA Tournament bracket? Then be advised that former Speaker Newt Gingrich has set up a Facebook group devoted to “friendly March Madness competition.”

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The Basketball President

With everyone’s brackets in full bloom, it’s time to pay heed to the Basketball President.

It would be exaggeration to say basketball was in any way central to Barack Obama’s successful campaign for the White House, but in other ways his affection for the urban American game made him seem all that much younger and more vigorous than the 72-year-old John McCain. And, of course, it gave him a bit of the “regular guy” veneer that politicians crave so desperately. As well, the sport helped him forge an identity, both as a politician and as a man.

Even as leader of the free world, hoops remains part of his life. Obama plays regular pick-up games with Education Secretary Arne Duncan, he unveiled his NCAA bracket on ESPN, and he even talked smack at a Wizards game. Most of all, though, as Charlie Murphy once said of Prince, “Cat could ball” …

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The Essential Work of Congress

Posted without comment …

(HT: With Leather)

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