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 #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 and got to know well, like Muhammad Ali, as well as his relationships with fellow sports journalists like Bob Costas and Howard Cosell.
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Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Episode #15 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Psychology with Dr. Tim Rice. We discuss the growth of sports psychology at all levels, the positive impact that a number of high profile athletes have had by opening up, and the importance of everyone involved in sports caring for the whole athlete, mind and body.
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – Gary McCoy is a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations.
Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
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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