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 #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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Order from Amazon
Ken Reed’s Author Page on Amazon