According to former sports agent Josh Luchs, amateurism in college sports (most notably, football and men’s basketball) is like Prohibition, “neither one of them works effectively.”
“Like Prohibition, the NCAA member institutions have created this underground marketplace without adequate and effective oversight,” said Luchs in a Q&A article by Patrick Hruby. “As long as you don’t address the needs of the student athletes, you’re going to continue to fuel the efforts of the bootleggers — in this case, the agents and runners — who are fulfilling those needs.”
The focus of colleges and universities should be education, not athletics. Big-time commercialized and professionalized college sports (primarily football and men’s basketball) corrupt higher education on many levels. These entertainment sports are about meeting commercial objectives, (see the recent conference realignment money grab craze for evidence), and, to a lesser degree, public relations objectives. Somewhere further down the list comes education.
Colleges and universities should have two choices when it comes to athletics:
1) Adopt the Division III/Ivy League model, which includes a ban on athletic scholarships. This model allows students, who are also athletes, to be students first, while providing the opportunity to compete in athletics as part of the overall educational experience.
2) At the Division I-A level (most notably in the BCS conferences), football, men’s basketball, and any other sport generating significant revenue, should be removed from the school’s athletic department and be reclassified as a business subsidiary under the university umbrella. The athletes would be paid. Scholarships would be allowed as part of the overall compensation package, but course enrollment would be optional.
To prevent athletes with huge market value from realizing that market value, while allowing schools to bring in millions of dollars of revenue and pay coaches up to $5 million a year is a shame. And, as civil rights historian Taylor Branch has said, it’s the civil rights issue of our time.
If the big-time Division I-A schools refuse these two options, in an effort at maintaing the status quo, the school’s athletic departments should have their educational tax-exempt status removed for the big business sports of football and men’s basketball — at a minimum. Undoubtedly, they will resist change. Thus, their tax-exempt status needs to be seriously challenged.
The current system in big-time college sports isn’t sustainable. The athletes are being exploited under the cover of archaic amateurism rules. The Olympics finally chucked their outdated model of amateurism. It’s time for the NCAA to follow suit.
“As long as the market for [college athletes] exists, you will have people who have a business model — under the table or otherwise — that tailors to that marketplace. And as long as that gap exists and the athletes have no other way to fill it, they’re being set up for scandal and failure,” says Luchs.
Prohibition in college sports is a failure. Let’s end it.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon