By Ken Reed
The NCAA and its media partners would like you to believe that the College Football Playoff (CFP) championship game is the ultimate celebration of college athletics.
The reality is, the title game is a mega example of social and economic injustice.
Everyone involved will be getting a boatload of money from the game, except, that is, the players producing the product.
ESPN is paying about $470 million a year to televise the CFP, yet the NCAA claims there simply isn’t enough money to share with the players.
Meanwhile, the salaries of coaches and athletic directors continue to skyrocket. Texas A&M recently gave former Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher a 10-year, $75 million contract. Offensive and defensive coordinators are regularly becoming $2 million a year men. Not bad for “amateur” athletics.
While the pile of money in big-time college athletics grows taller and taller, the athletes are told that they must remain amateurs., and not only can’t be paid for their on-field athletic ability — directly or indirectly — but also can’t can’t receive compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses.
“You can’t justify giving millions to the guy who coaches the defense and not five cents to the people who play,” Sonny Vaccaro, the former shoe company executive who now is the NCAA’s biggest antagonist. “Why can’t we do something extra for the kids? Never is that discussed because it’s verboten.”
Why can’t we indeed? NFL franchises and NCAA Power Five conference football factories both make millions of dollars annually. One big difference is that while the payroll expense for NFL franchises is about $150 million annually, the annual “payroll” expense for a Power Five football program might be a couple million dollars in scholarship costs. (And those scholarship dollars are really nothing more than dollars on paper that the school’s funny money accountants can take care of under the non-profit umbrella that big-time college sports programs are allowed to operate under.)
The general public is gradually catching on to the unfairness of the big-time college sports system. A poll conducted by the Washington Post and University of Massachusetts-Lowell found that only 52% of Americans now believe a scholarship is adequate compensation for college athletes. The study also revealed that 66% of Americans believe athletes should be paid when their names, images or likenesses are used for commercial purposes.
The CFP — a scam to begin with, since the champions of several FBS conferences, including undefeated Central Florida, weren’t even allowed to compete — doesn’t really result in a true national champion.
But it does expose the greed and economic injustice that permeates major college athletics.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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, with over 150 camps in 30+ U.S. states and Canada. We discuss problems in youth sports today, including single sport specialization, the growing gap between the “haves” and “have-nots,” the high drop-out rate in competitive sports, and the growing mental health challenges young athletes are dealing with today.
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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.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
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.
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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