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The Shame of College Sports

The Shame of College Sports

Excellent article by Taylor Branch discussing the NCAA’s current and historical hypocrisy with respect to the amateur status of their “student-athletes,” a term that deserves much deriding.

There’s been a lot of agita lately about NCAA scandals involving money paid to student athletes, whether by boosters (such as in the case of Miami) or through the sale of signatures, memorabilia, etc (as with Ohio State, which caused Terrelle Pryor to leave school).  Blowhards like Alexander Wolff have argued that Miami should drop its football program altogether, so awful were the infractions committed by former booster Nevin Shapiro.  Nor is this the first time Wolff has argued for this.  Seems like a dumb reason to drop a football team, especially when your school’s primary draw for freshman applicants is related to the perception of Miami being a football school.

Whether or not NCAA regulations were violated seems beyond debate:  they very clearly were and it’s likely that university officials in reasonably high places were aware of what was going on.  The problem I have, though, is similar to what Taylor Branch touches on in his article: it’s ridiculous for these colleges and the NCAA as a whole to make millions and millions of dollars on the backs of athletes from predominantly lower-income backgrounds, not pay these kids or compensate them in any way (no, a scholarship doesn’t count as payment when these kids are in leisure/media studies classes twice a week and practicing/training 10 hours a day) and then chastise them when they try to make some money.  Or, rather, when they’re offered money.

It isn’t at all reasonable to expect a young man who has come from nothing to say no to cash or benefits offered to him as a result of his athletic ability.  This is particularly true in the case of football, where they may never make it big in the pros and, even if they do, are one injury away from irrelevance.  Gotta smoke ‘em while you got ‘em.

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