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Tuesday, August 18. 2015
It's widely known that college football and basketball are de facto minor leagues for the NBA and NFL. But they are not true minor leagues, and while the athletes are not paid in the same fashion as professionals (they are 'amateurs', after all), they are actually paid quite a bit of money. Most of these payments are utilized at their own discretion, such as getting an education and not just taking Underwater Pottery 101.
At any major school, the education itself carries a cost of $18,000-50,000 a year. At some elite schools, it could be substantially more. Very few people in the 18-24 age range earn this much money, let alone are given the opportunity to supplement that 'payment' through the use of educational facilities.
There are other payments as well. 'Free' food (the players eat substantial portions at the school cafeterias), 'free' living facilities (not always 5-star quality, but I liked my college digs), 'free' health care and fitness facilities, travel to and from games, and the likelihood of a free meal at a host of local bars and restaurants (if you're the big star).
My neighbor's son is currently playing Wide Receiver at a major northeastern university. I've spoken with him many times since he's been up there, and he works hard. His freshman year was a bust, due to pulled hamstring (he tells me the workouts for injured players are harder than for those who are healthy, but you work on other muscle groups that usually go ignored). To hear his stories, however, you come to realize these young people have a very good lifestyle, even if they are not the rock-star QB.
The NCAA needs reform, no doubt. College athletics (and education - but that's a completely different matter), in general, needs reform. I don't think unionization will solve any of these issues, nor will any kind of governmental interference. It's fair to say these are well-compensated student/athletes (emphasis on athlete) for the level of play they are engaged in. If the players want to unionize, I really don't have a problem with that. I suppose if they did and pushed for more 'stuff', they'd find out just how important or unimportant they are (I'm thinking unimportant, at many schools, though not the big-sports ones).
It's also fair to say that, if some people have their way, and these athletes get paid, the Title IX athletics will disappear. The wide-ranging effects of unionization and paid student-athletes has never truly been investigated. My guess is the only logical end to this will be to turn major college sports into a true minor league. For now, however, the NCAA continues to hold sway.
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It is an absurd business for colleges to have gotten into. Despite the rhetoric, it has little connection with academic pursuits. It is part of branding and PR for the college, an artificial method of creating student unity and ongoing alumni connection, and perhaps some instruction in time management.
However, we are here, and even with the growth of online universities, it's not going away soon.
Colleges are minor leagues mostly for football; to a lesser extent, basketball, baseball, and hockey. But they are the sport apex for everything else (excepting the Olympics every four years).
The value of the education varies more than that $18-50K. Colleges claim they are giving away something of value because they are giving a slot that they could use to charge someone else money for. But the value to the recipient is much less clear. Regionally, it can be a ticket to a first job even if you didn't learn anything and didn't graduate - but it is having played for the school that confers the advantage, not having gone to it. The myth is that the wonderful education is of lifetime value, and that is absolutely true for some. Yet for others, who do not have minds willing or prepared for learning, all they have been given is food and a dorm room.
I don't know what fixes it. A true minor league might be possible in football or basketball - those coexist with college sports in hockey and baseball already. But it would be a tough sell at first, because of the cultural investment we already have in rooting for the Dear Old School.
I should have written "cost" instead of "value" and will fix that.
The value is far beyond the cost. It's just overlooked and ignored.
Agree with the gist of your post Bulldog, but how do Title IX Athletics disappear without an act of Congress?
They don't - except that, if athletes are paid, there is no money to support other programs. Fencing, wrestling and a host of other smaller male sports will go first, and their female counterparts will follow.
It's not as if Title IX disappears as a law - it disappears because it is unsupportable (as do other, lesser, sports).
Ah, but there's the rub, Bulldog. The minor men's sports could indeed go, but someone would sue for women athletes to get the same pay and I would wager they would win in court.
If the minor men's sports go, so will the women's. There will be an equal culling across gender boundaries. This will be devastating for women's 'rights' in sports (as if there are any).
College faculty and administrators (all former faculty) take the student-athlete concept seriously, even if no one else (including the student-athletes) does. Turning the student-althletes into paid professional is not going to happen. Northwestern and other schools have already indicated that they will abandon Division I sports if unionization were to happen.
The O'Bannion suit (under appeal) is already having an effect: schools are removing student names from the paraphenalia sold to fans so that they don't have to pay royalties to students.
PS: Northwestern is a private university, the only private university in the B1G conference. Johns Hopkins is only in it for lacrosse, and doesn't really count.
Purdue University, my alma mater, is believed by some to be private, but it is, in fact, a state university and the land-grant school for Indiana. (Landgrant is not synonymous with public. Both Cornell and MIT have landgrant status)
Penn State is a semipublic/semiprivate hybrid that is controlled by Pennsylvania but is not part of the Penn state system.
The college/university world is much more complicated than sports fans (and many graduates) think.
Penn State is also a Land-Grant university, and while not part of the state system, is a public institution. I'm from PA originally and used to root for PSU before I went to college.
Removing names from paraphenalia is related slightly to the O'Bannion suit, and is more closely related to the infamous Johnny Manziel "hey I'll sell my autograph" event which got him in trouble. Jay Bilas, after that episode, exposed the hypocrisy of NCAA behavior (your name is ours, not yours).
The NLRB ruling on Northwestern was specific only insofar as the NLRB felt its ruling would be disruptive of the college system. The NLRB, if it had ruled, would only have affected the private schools like Northwestern, but they would have no jurisdiction in public schools which comprise the larger portion of major college programs (I believe there are only 17 private institutions with Div 1 programs). Which means other private schools could come up again as potential unionization options (most likely to see the same outcome - but the NLRB did not slam the door shut with their ruling).
That world is complicated, but not that much when it comes to sports. The NCAA rules, unless you're a major program like ND and can cut your own path. Or unless you're a major conference and can afford to thumb your nose (which some are slowly starting to do).
I wouldn't say professional status is not going to happen. I have learned to never say never. I would say it's unlikely - but the push for it is definitely growing.
I feel there is a better solution, one involving trusts and payouts upon graduation, which can maintain the reality of amateur status but provide a benefit for all scholarship athletes. I doubt it would ever be employed, but solutions to the issues faced exist. There's just no political will at the NCAA to fix anything. That's why I believe, in the long run, the conferences may wind up cutting their own path. Their contracts and rights fees are growing larger and they are feeling their own power as separate entities.
Title IX in Montana has been an excuse to force the state to higher women (lesbians of course) to occupy newly created state government jobs. ANY DISCUSSION--ANY AT ALL about the state budget ends up as a TITLE iX abuse conversation. Just another tool in their little bag of abuse techniques.
I'd like to know what the student-athlete thinks he's getting out of this. a college education? really?
somewhere between 1% and 2% go pro. the average career length in the Not For Long league is 3.3 years (per NFLPA). the average salary is around $2 mil/year, but around 70% of the players don't last long enough to reach the average.
HA! Depends on the kid.
I hired a kid from Wake Forest who was the 3rd string tight end. He had a great head on his shoulders, and a full ride to a good school.
My neighbor's son is getting a top-notch education with his full ride. And he's earning it. He was not a high performer in high school and still isn't - but he's doing well in college. Tutors and summer school pay off (yet one more way some of these kids are 'paid').
Julius Erving took a few years, but went back and got his degree. Sometimes it takes a few of them years to realize what the benefit of their being in a college is. But when the figure it out, it's a good thing.
Others don't know or don't care or don't care to know why they are there outside of the parties and the practice and the games. But c'est la vie. We all make choices in life.
"...football players graduated at a rate 17.8 percentage points below other male students -- 55.1 percent for the players compared to 72.9 percent for the others."
1) Are these football players truly compensated through a free education? Are they held to the same standards as the rest of the students for passing classes and finishing enough credits to get a degree in something? If they are 'graduating' with no real education, then I suggest they are NOT being compensated.
2) The schools are making tons of money off of these players. If they can prove to me that the 'free education' they are giving to these players is equal to the amount of money they are making off the program, then I am cool with it. However, we know that they sell jerseys with popular players' names on them...to me, making money off of an individual player's name is wrong. The kid should be the one receiving the profits off of any and all promotional items bearing his name.
So maybe unionization is not the answer, but something needs to be done. Many of these kids get injured in college play and never end up the NFL. Without a rigorous education (and not special classes given to athletes to keep them 'eligible'), these kids are used and tossed away with nothing to show for ti.
If I paid you $10,000 a year and stipulated that the money was to be spent on a car to get you to and from work, but you spent it on a vacation, would you still say that you were compensated? It doesn't matter if they are held to any standard or if the finish with a degree. How they choose to utilize this 'payment' is up to them. It's a payment which can generate more income in the long run, IF they choose to utilize it.
If I paid you $10,000 a year, and my company made $50,000 a year because of your work, would you demand to be paid $50,000? If you did, and I said I was going to cut you loose because the payoff for me (as the employer) wasn't good enough - would that be justifiable? The amount the schools offer the players does NOT have to be equal to the amount they make off the program. That's basic business.
I do agree the kids have a right to their names, but schools don't usually make money off the names - that's the NCAA which does that. Regardless of who is making the money, there should be some kind of compensation for name use - but that's something the courts are grappling with now in the O'Bannion suit (mentioned above).
Some college athletes get a decent education. Many do not and most of them should never have even been in college. That they become pro athletes is probably the best thing that will ever happen to them and could have ever happened to them. Most of them are simply blessed with physical attributes that facilitate success in sports and nothing more. For them their luckiest day was the day the school selected them for the school team and for that they should be thankful not resentful. I am always in awe over the ability and desire by humans to kill the golden goose. This effort to unionize and extort is no different.