By Ken Reed
It’s heartening to know that mainstream media outlets are increasingly highlighting the gross economic inequities in big-time college sports. For years, popular sports media outlets either ignored the issue altogether or defended the status quo of “amateurism” when it came to the topic of fairly compensating the athletes that bring in multi-millions in revenue each year.
USA Today’s Nancy Armour had a strong column this week calling for the power brokers in college sports to get creative about finding ways to more fairly compensate college athletes.
“There are two, very simple truths in college athletics: Athletes are not being fairly compensated for the value they bring to their schools and conferences or the revenue that follows, and there is more than enough money to correct that,” wrote Armour.
“When Nick Saban can clear $11 million, as he will this year, or Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany gets a $20 million bonus, it’s not hard to do the math and realize those kinds of payouts are only possible because the athletes are little more than indentured servants.”
Armour doesn’t advocate for athletic departments cutting monthly paychecks for athletes, justifiably noting the complexity of an arrangement like that. But she lists a laundry list of expanded benefits that schools and conferences could pay athletes, including paying for athletes’ families to accompany them on recruiting visits, health care beyond graduation, a 15-year (or lifetime) window for athletes to complete their degrees or earn additional ones once their eligibility is up, bonuses for graduation, financial support for athletes’ trips home, and letting athletes profit off their names, images and likenesses (e.g. from sales of posters of players in uniform, or using player likenesses in video games).
“The solution is actually quite simple: Take a percentage of the College Football Playoff payout and TV contracts for the NCAA basketball tournaments, and put it in a fund for expanded benefits,” wrote Armour.
Just 4.4% from last year’s College Football Playoff would equal $19.3 million. You could also pull a similar percentage from the $760 million CBS and Turner paid the NCAA for coverage of this year’s men’s basketball tournament. Together, that would certainly provide a nice start to providing a fund for more equitably compensating college athletes, most notably the football players and men’s basketball players responsible for the majority of NCAA revenues.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #32 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Prolific Author Joe Posnanski Joins the Show – Posnanski is one of America’s best sportswriters and has twice been named the best sports columnist in America by the Associated Press Sports Editors. We chat about his new book, “Why We Love Baseball,” his new Substack newsletter called Joe Blogs, and we cover topics including how baseball treats its fans, MLB’s numerous rule changes this past season, how the sport can become more fan-friendly, the greatness of Negro Leagues champion Buck O’Neil, and much more.
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Episode #31 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Foul Ball Safety Is Still an Important Issue at Ballparks – Our guests are Jordan Skopp, founder of FoulBallSafety.com and Greg Wilkowski, a Chicago based attorney. We discuss the historical problem of foul balls injuring fans and why some teams are still hesitant to put up protective netting in some minor league and college baseball parks.
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 member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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.
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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