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 #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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