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 #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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