Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Setting people up to fail

I admit I am a crank when it comes to college football. I used to be really into it, but these days, I could really care less about it. I think it has become all about the money and there is just no joy in Big Time College football anymore for me. People take it way too seriously. Until it can be to me just a game again, I doubt I will ever go back to watching it with any regularity.

None of this is to say that I don't keep an eye on what's going on. I read pre-season reports and generally take note of who wins and loses. That is about the extent of my involvement anymore. Largely, I only do that because I am once again in Big Red country, though somewhat removed from the Lincoln "Any Given Saturday" in the fall spectacle. I mainly just read enough to be able to discuss the topic demi-coherently if it comes up in conversation with extended family or locals. I just cannot bring myself to follow a Big Ten team. I have tried and tried to get past my Southern prejudice, but I just can't do it.

I have watched with some interest a couple of things that I think could rock the Big Time College football world. One of them is the case making its way through the courts that might actually stick the NCAA for all its profiteering off the backs of students. I go back and forth on whether or not sports players should be paid or not. The NCAA has an interesting timeline of that case, for those interested. There are other opinion pieces all over Google, like this one or that one, if you are a legal and amateur sports nerd like myself.

Now, I think the concept of the NCAA making millions of the backs of sports athletes is wrong, but as they say, "it's more complicated than that..." Yeah, they make millions, but the simple matter is, athletes on the college level are amateurs. Amateur means you don't get paid. If you want to get paid, fine, but you shouldn't do it on a college campus.

Before you shout me down, I also agree that the way the NCAA treats its players like chattel slaves is also wrong, and there has to be some better way. However, once you start playing football players, you have to start paying all athletes, regardless of sports and regardless of the sex of the athlete, if we do indeed have equal protection and all that. The simple fact of the matter is that most colleges and universities simply cannot afford to do that without major cuts of entire sports programs. (Do we really make any money off or want to pay players to wrestle or play softball?) The Oregon's and Oklahoma's of the NCAA could pull it off, but once you get out of the top 20 or so elite programs, the money starts drying up pretty quickly.

That, to me, seems to defeat the entire purpose of organized sports if you start axing sports teams (players who need to play to be able just to afford to go to college) so you can pay other players more than what they get in scholarships. That is inherently unjust.

Secondly, there is a major issue with money that no one really wants to talk about: yet another arms race. If Team A can pay their players a stipend of $4000, what is to stop team B from paying $5000 then then team C $10000. Think it won't happen? No one 20 years ago would have said coaches could be routinely making over a million (or 2 or 3) dollar(s) a season.

A cap, you say, on player's salaries? Well, if they get paid, they are professionals. If they are professionals, then they are hired by someone. If they get hired by someone, are they not University employees? The NCAA can't regulate what a school pays a private employee. That is why the NCAA cannot simply ban a crooked coach from coaching again or have sanctions attached to him if he goes elsewhere, and the coach sits out a year in disgrace and then gets offered another multi-million dollar contract at some other school while his old school has to live with all the NCAA penalties.Welcome to the weird world of "amateur" sports.

See, it isn't fun, is it?

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