Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Toward honesty in college athletics

It was announced a few days ago when I didn't much feel like sitting in front of a computer, but I think a comment might still be apropos. I had almost no feeling of Schadenfreude when it was announced the USC had serious sanctions imposed on it by the NCAA -- two years of not being able to go bowling and the loss of 30 athletic scholarships over three years -- even though USC is UCLA's traditional rival. One doesn't really want to see a rival crippled by outside parties; one wants to be able to beat them when they're attheir best.

The larger issue, however, is the fiction -- the cult -- of amateurism in college athletics. I don't think it's likely, but I would love to see it abandoned. The amateurism requirement is a hangover from the 19th-century aristocrats who helped to establish the Olympics and other modern sports and claimed to believe that "gentlemen do not take money for playing games" -- which helped to eliminate competition from poorer kids who might need to take money. We would be better off, I think, if colleges that wanted outstanding sports programs openly paid "student-athletes" and dropped the pretense. As it is, schools with, for example, outstanding football programs, reap monetary benefits, while the athletes risk injury providing the product for the price of an athletic scholarship. Better to stop pretending and have athletes paid openly, perhaps even negotiating fees year by year. It wouldn't be inconsistent with going to classes and getting a degree, and in fact it's likely that fewer would leave early for the pros.


1 comment:

Michael Freitas said...

As conferences reshape, TV revenue continues to grow, coaches get paid 4 million a year and the rest of the NCAA continues to scramble for more money, it seems its major function is to make sure that the people who do the heavy lifting, the jocks, get as little money as possible. Of all the stupid, incompetent and ridiculous organization in this world the NCAA, might be the worst. At least, they don't kill folks. What a group of sanctimonious as...... Ah, but I'm being to kind.