By Ken Reed
Dan Wetzel is an American treasure. He’s one of the best sportswriters we have in this country. He’s a columnist for Yahoo! Sports and his September 11th column is one of his best. He lays out the mess that is big-time college athletics today. But instead of focusing on the numerous scandals, he shines the spotlight on the essence of the problem, the unethical model at the core of college sports: amateurism. It’s time the NCAA boots shamateurism, just like the International Olympic Committee did a few decades ago.
Here’s Wetzel on amateurism:
Amateurism is a bankrupt concept. It was invented by British aristocrats in the mid-1800s as a way to keep working-class athletes from succeeding at their elitist pursuits. Basically, as long as guys who had to labor in factories six days a week were worn out from the work and lacked time to practice, the rich guys who never dealt with such concerns would continue to be superior at sailing or dressage or cricket or whatever. So the bourgeoisie who didn’t need the money declared it noble to play for no pay. How nice of them. Their true reasoning, of course, was to assure the continuation of their favored status on an uneven playing field of competition.
This detestable idea was later co-opted by the NCAA and the modern Olympic Games (the ancient Greek athletes were actually paid). The public was then repeatedly sold the idea of the innocence of amateurism and sold it well. This conveniently allowed the powerful administrators to control all the revenue produced.
Amateurism is a sham in practice, too, one that simply isn’t being followed or respected, as story after story after story proves. So many of the athletes, players and administrators don’t believe in it. That’s the value of the coverage. It’s made denying the extent of the violations laughable.
Enforcing amateurism became so impossible and ridiculous that even the International Olympic Committee – still in favor of kickbacks and bribes, mind you – gave up on it … nearly three decades ago. The Olympics didn’t collapse because Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps can appear in TV commercials. It actually got more popular. It’d be no different in the college game.
See the rest of Wetzel’s column here.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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 and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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