By Ken Reed
Come on now. We’re all big boys and girls here. Despite those cute ads the NCAA puts out every year about student-athletes being great in the classroom as well as on the athletic fields and playing courts, very few human beings can excel at both academics and athletics at big-time college sports factories (Read: primarily schools in the Power Five conferences: Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC, SEC and Big 12), especially in the big revenue sports like football and men’s basketball.
As UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen says, “Look, football and school don’t go together. They just don’t. Trying to do both is like trying to do two full-time jobs.”
He’s right. Football is a 40 hours a week job for Power Five players. The NCAA says it’s less than that but when you add up all the hours studying playbooks and scouting reports, looking at game film, etc — in addition to all the hours spent at practices, in team meetings, and receiving treatment in training rooms, it’s 40+ hours a week. Just ask Rosen or any other big-time college football player.
As a student, to excel at a rigorous academic major in college demands a similar 40 hours or so a week. That’s 80 hours a week, and we haven’t even factored in time for a little social life, like date night at the local pizza parlor.
Something has to give and it’s not football because the coaches own the players via that athletic scholarship.
“Human beings don’t belong in school with our schedules, says Rosen. “No one in their right mind should have a football player’s schedule, and go to school.”
Of course, these college football factories have academic counselors to help football players with their studies. But too often they’re more interested in keeping kids eligible for the football coach than worrying about what the athletes might be doing with their careers in 10 years.
“You have a bunch of people at the universities who are supposed to help you out, and they’re more interested in helping you stay eligible,” says Rosen.
“At some point, universities have to do more to prepare players for university life and help them succeed beyond football. There’s so much money being made in this sport. It’s a crime to not do everything you can to help the people who are making it for those who are spending it.”
Ah, there it is. Money. Profit-at-all-costs (PAAC) — along with its cousin, win-at-all-costs (WAAC) — that’s what drives big-time college athletics. It’s certainly not education. Or career preparation.
Now, some people will argue that these football factories are preparing players for a lucrative career in the NFL. Well, according to the NCAA’s own statistics, a whopping 1.5% of college football players make it to the NFL.
“What about those who don’t?” asks Rosen, one of the most socially-aware college athletes in the country.
“What did they get for laying their body on the line play after play while universities make millions upon millions?”
Excellent question, Mr. Rosen, excellent question.
It’s a civil rights question. It’s a social justice question. It’s an economic justice question. And it’s an ethical question that we as a society need to ask ourselves at some point … maybe during the week, in-between those Saturdays in the Fall when we put on our school’s colors and cheer for good ol’ State U.
— 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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