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
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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.
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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
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