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 #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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