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 #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan in the year 2022.
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Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
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.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
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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