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 #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.
Follow on Facebook: @SportsForumPodcast
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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