By Ken Reed
The Final Four is always a time for celebration and dismay.
It’s a celebration of great athletes, great back stories and a great sport. But at the same time, it’s distressing that the athletes creating this billion dollar spectacle are prevented from sharing in the largesse.
A couple of USA Today writers, Nancy Armour and Dan Wolken captured that mix of feelings well this week.
Armour and Wolken both believe the only way to deal with the cesspool that is big-time college athletics is to start with the question, “What’s best for the young athletes?”
As Wolken put it, “In the end, the solutions are simple if you start with a simple goal: What’s best for the athletes?”
What a quaint notion. Not “What’s best for the coaches?” They’re doing fine. Nick Saban, Alabama’s head coach pulled in a cool $11 million last year. Not “What’s best for the NCAA and its schools?” CBS is getting closer to paying $1 billion a year for broadcast rights to the NCAA hoops tournament. But “What’s best for the athletes?”
“It’s the kids who are generating the millions of dollars for their schools, conferences and the NCAA, getting only a scholarship in return. Now, I’m not saying a college scholarship is worthless. Far from it. For some athletes, it is the only way they can afford to go to college. But the quaint days of college athletics being an amateur activity are long gone, and the NCAA and its schools remain steadfast in their refusal to accept that.”
Meanwhile, NCAA president Mark Emmert remains frozen in place when it comes to coming up with any creative solutions to this economic injustice problem.
“Universities and colleges have consistently said they don’t want to have student-athletes become employees of a university,” Emmert said. “They don’t want them to be playing for compensation.”
Hey, Mr. President, there are other ways to start effectively addressing this situation besides putting the athletes directly on the payroll. The first, and most obvious, is to do what the Olympics did and begin to allow athletes to gain economically from their names, images, and likenesses — just like every other student on campus, and every other citizen of this country.
“Most people are comfortable with there being some difference between professional and college athletes but also believe it’s fair that the players get some compensation for the revenues they’re generating. Allowing college athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness is one long-standing suggestion. Follow the Olympic model, where athletes are allowed to sign individual endorsement deals.”
Yes, going to the Olympic model is the simple first step. And a step Emmert and the NCAA will eventually be forced to make.
— 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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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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