By Ken Reed
The shoe and apparel arms race in big-time college sports has jumped to a new level.
UCLA signed a record $280 million deal with emerging shoe and apparel giant Under Armour today. That comes on the heels of Nike’s $252 million deal with Ohio State and $250 million deal with Texas. Less than a year ago, Michigan signed a then-record $169 million deal with Nike. Now, the Wolverines deal looks like a paltry sum.
Where does this leave the athletes at these universities?
TV and multi-media deals have skyrocketed in recent years at the Power Five conference level. Luxury suite, club seat, personal seat license (PSL) and ticket revenues are up significantly this past decade. And now, shoe and apparel sponsorship revenues are going through the roof.
Meanwhile, the athletes responsible for all these revenue streams remain strapped with NCAA-imposed amateur status. College athletes’ compensation is capped at an athletic scholarship — certainly nice but far from their true market value.
At some point, the economic injustice of the college sports model is going to need to be addressed. Everybody is getting rich in the big-time college sports game but the athletes themselves. On the big-time college sports plantation, athletes economic and civil rights are being deprived.
“I think college athletes have been conned out of their rights,” says civil rights historian and author Taylor Branch. “The NCAA’s amateur ideals are contrived. The current system needs to be abolished.”
— 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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