By Ken Reed
College football bowl games paid more than a half billion dollars to big-time college athletic conferences and schools last season. That’s a $200 million increase over the prior year.
As an entertainment industry, college football and basketball have never been healthier. The money keeps flowing in.
But here’s the catch: the athletes creating the revenue get only a sliver of it in the form of an athletic scholarship. The NCAA legalized athletic scholarships in the early 1950’s. Since then, revenues from Division I college football and basketball have soared but athlete compensation has remained basically the same, capped at a free pass to class and room and board.
For a time, most college football and basketball players were given four-year scholarships. Ironically, those were cut and transformed into one-year renewable scholarships as football and basketball revenues spiked. Today, a few schools have said they will offer a four-year scholarship once again but that’s still a far cry from the what the athletes’ true market value is.
Where else in American society are wages capped so egregiously?
“The NCAA’s amateur ideals are contrived,” says civil rights historian and author Taylor Branch.
Nevertheless, the NCAA moves callously forward. Four new bowl games are expected to be added next year. More bowls equals more revenue for the conferences and schools. Everybody gets to swim in more money, everybody that is except the people responsible for the product.
“The overall health of the bowl system is so important to our game because of the opportunities it creates for student-athletes,” College Football Playoff Executive Director Bill Hancock said.
Seriously? This guy is a piece of work. It certainly isn’t creating any economic opportunities for the “student-athletes.” They aren’t even allowed to get paid for signing their autograph at the local auto parts store the week after the big game. And they can’t be compensated for having their picture appear in a calendar. Crazy stuff.
Sadly, this unjust system continues on.
— 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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