Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gifted Athletic Peasants:

In April, William C. Rhoden wrote several columns for the New York Times about college recruiting violations and efforts to prevent them. I wrote to him on April 12, but sadly, he did not reply. I have very strong feelings about these attempts to keep honest rewards out of the hands of college athletes. Here's (approximately) what I wrote:

Dear William Rhoden,
I've been reading your columns on recruiting, and I believe you will have a sympathetic ear for a most important observation about major college sports: the players on these teams are employees. Most of the scandals, recruiting violations and “cheating” among coaches and alumni all arise from one simple matter: the desire of the colleges to keep most of the profits of major sports to themselves.

It's a myth that the players are “amateurs”. They work forty and more hours a week, and they work hard to perfect their abilities so that their college can rake in reams of money. In fact, these players deserve to be recognized as the stars who make their medium a success. They are entitled to the same percentage of total income as the athletes in pro sports. What a difference it would make if colleges were forced to pay their sports employees their fair share:

Alumni would probably fail to back their teams with the same gusto. The myth that these players are 'students' (not employees) stands behind many major alumni bequests.

Colleges would no longer see football and basketball (etc.) as big business opportunities, once the employees got their fair slice. Colleges might go back to offering truly amateur sports as a good way to balance real studies. (As my Alma Mater, Columbia, says: a sound mind in a sound body.)

Please bear in mind that every 'recruiting violation' you report on is yet another attempt to keep college athletes from gaining even the tiniest pittance of profit beyond their college scholarships. “Can I have some more, sir?” Evidently, NO!
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