By Ken Reed
From a pure on-the-field/on-the-court sports perspective, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is my favorite sporting event of the year.
However, my enjoyment is always tempered by the fact the athletes producing all the exciting action are getting exploited.
The NCAA rakes in approximately a billion dollars on the tournament every year. NCAA president Mark Emmert makes about $4 million a year. The coaches and athletic directors from the bigger schools in The Dance make millions as well. Yet, the players will go back to campus (or wherever they take their online classes) and settle for tuition and room-and-board (and maybe a slight stipend). Now, a college education is nothing to scoff at (unless the athletes are all placed in stereotypical basket-weaving courses). But it simply isn’t fair and just compensation.
As civil-rights historian Taylor Branch so aptly put it, the NCAA is a classic case study in economic injustice and the denial of basic civil rights to athletes. (A must read. See: “ The Shame of College Sports”)
Big-time college athletes are professionals in every way except when it comes to their economic and civil rights. Those rights are withheld by the NCAA so that coaches, athletic administrators, NCAA television partners and game announcers can take in the dough created by the athletes on the NCAA’s football fields and basketball courts.
The mission of the NCAA, and the behemoth athletic departments on campuses across the nation, isn’t education. And it’s not the safety and protection of the athletes (which was the original mission of the NCAA). The mission of the NCAA is the same as the NFL, NBA and MLB: revenue generation.
College athletes are fed up with the current system. Numerous players have recently been using the hashtag #NotNCAAProperty on their social media accounts. Some of the players in this year’s NCAA tourney talked about sitting out or delaying tournament games. Players from 15 teams competing in this year’s tournament released a list of demands near the start of the tourney, in cooperation with The National College Players Association (NCPA). Their demands included abolishing NCAA rules that prevent athletes from securing representation, and being allowed to receive payment for the use of their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Hardly outlandish demands/
College sports certainly pay well for some people, just not the athletes putting on the show. It’s long past time for that to end.
Alas, the end may be on the horizon. Last week the Supreme Court took up the issue in Alston v. NCAA. Several justices came down hard on the NCAA, its representatives, and the morally-bankrupt NCAA system of profiting outrageously off the backs of its unpaid athletes.
We’ll see how this case plays out, but there’s hope.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #14 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Making Sense of the Injury Pandemic in Major League Baseball – The guest is Gary McCoy, a strength, conditioning and high performance coach who has worked with several Major League Baseball organizations. Our focus is the injury pandemic in baseball, what’s causing it and how it can be fixed.
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Episode #13 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Conversation With Long-Time MLB Exec Dan Evans About What’s Right With Baseball and What Could Be Better – Evans is a former general manager for the Los Angeles Dodgers and is currently a consultant for Go the Distance Baseball, which owns the Field of Dreams movie site.
Episode #12 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Fun Chat With Dan Gutman, Author of the Baseball Card Adventure Series for Kids
Episode #11 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Latest on Brain Trauma, Concussions and CTE with Dr. Chris Nowinski – Nowinski is CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation.
Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO.
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.
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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