By Ken Reed
A report this week said Stanford was fighting for the purity of amateurism in college athletics during Pac-12 discussions about the possibility of football returning this fall.
Well Stanford, that is simply precious.
According to the article:
“Stanford is vehemently committed to student-athletes retaining their amateur status. Stanford’s Jacquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics Bernard Muir in the past has threatened to take Stanford athletics in a different direction if the University’s athletes went beyond amateurism, including moving the school to another NCAA division. Muir told Congress in 2018 that if Stanford student athletes were allowed to unionize, the school ‘might opt not to compete at the level we are competing in.’”
The reality is Stanford — and other big-time college sports programs — love amateurism when it’s profitable. When certain sports aren’t profitable they don’t really care about them — or the athletes that compete in them. (Ask the athletes on Iowa’s swimming, gymnastics and tennis teams, sports that were recently chopped by Iowa’s athletic department.)
Stanford, which supposedly cares deeply about the purity of amateurism, and amateur athletes, cut 11 “minor” sports earlier this year. Stanford claimed they just couldn’t afford to sponsor the 11 sports they cut any longer despite having a $28 billion endowment.
Of course, cutting the profitable sports of football and men’s basketball wasn’t a consideration. The reason is that unlike field hockey and wrestling, two of the sports cut by Stanford, Stanford football is very profitable, and thus, is an “amateur” sport that Stanford administrators really care about.
An op-ed in the September 6, 2017 Stanford Daily nailed the situation perfectly:
In the fiscal year ending Aug. 31, 2016, the Stanford football program generated revenues of $43,744,639, according to disclosures provided to the Department of Education. The team’s expenses were $23.7 million, meaning that each of the program’s 85 scholarship football players generated $235,532.14 in profit for the athletics department. Stanford’s Office of Financial Aid calculated the school’s 2017-18 full cost of attendance to be $69,109, meaning that scholarship Cardinal players receive, in in-kind (non-cash) benefits, less than 29 percent of what they generate for the University. For young men who risk their long-term health to act, essentially, as marketers for the University, there is little room to categorize this exchange as fair.
Hey Stanford, if you’re really true believers in amateurism, quit offering athletic scholarships and go to the Division III level of college athletics, where scholarships are awarded for academic ability, not athletic ability.
I’m not holding my breath. I think the folks on The Farm enjoy the money and cheap marketing the “amateur” football players provide the university.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
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, whose mission is to defend academic integrity in higher education from the corrosive aspects of commercialized college sports.
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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.
Episode #4 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Biggest Issue in Sports Today? Brain Trauma – The guest is Patrick Hruby, a journalist who has done extensive research and in-depth writing on the topic of brain trauma in sports, most notably football.
Episode #3 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Styles with Sports Sociologist Jay Coakley – The guest is veteran sports sociologist Jay Coakley, a former college athlete who went on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociology from Notre Dame.
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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