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 #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
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.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
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.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon