By Ken Reed
The NCAA hoops tourney is one of my favorite entertainment extravaganzas of the year. But when the NCAA pooh-bahs start talking about the educational experience of “our student athletes,” my stomach begins to turn.
The only education taking place is a lesson in exploitation and hypocrisy. The NCAA is masterful in its ability to annually present a March case study in economic injustice and the denial of basic civil rights to athletes.
The system is inherently wrong. It can’t ever work. When you try to merge a big-time business with higher education what results is the Jim Boeheim mess at Syracuse, and the long-running academic scandal at North Carolina (widely-perceived as one of our best public universities).
Trying to put a multi-billion dollar enterprise on college campuses under the same non-profit umbrella as the biology department is doomed to fail, especially when you have college chancellors and presidents trying to run both the biology department and the multi-billion dollar sports entertainment business.
Big-time college athletes are professionals in every way except when it comes to their economic and civil rights. These rights are withheld by the NCAA so that coaches, athletic administrators, television executives and game announcers can rake in the dough created by the athletes down on the football field and basketball floor.
It’s a problem that can’t be fixed either, because it’s not just about people cheating, it’s about a system that at its core is untenable. The scandals and injustices will continue as long as the charade of trying to marry academics with the entertainment business continues. College athletic programs need to move back to the Division III model, true students playing sports as part of their college experience. Or, they need to be restructured as for-profit endeavors, which allow the athletes to have the same basic economic and civil rights the rest of us enjoy.
What we have today in the Power Five conferences is a huge sports entertainment industry that also serves as a free minor league system for the National Football League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball. The mission of big-time athletic programs playing in big-time athletic conferences certainly isn’t higher education. The mission is the same as the NFL, NBA and MLB: revenue generation.
Let’s work to end this charade, if for no other reason than so we can all be spared the nauseating sight of Jim Boeheim and Roy Williams behind microphones trying to pass on the blame for the academic fraud that’s run rampant in their own programs.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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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