Exploitation in college sports : the amateurism hoax and the true value of an education




Doane, Bill

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Over the last decade, there has been widespread support for allowing college athletes to receive compensation beyond the value of their scholarships. Former star players and members of the media have drawn attention to the injustice inherent to a system that enriches universities and high-ranking individuals with multi-million dollar contracts without providing fair compensation to the entertainers on the field or court. Some critics have dramatically referred to college athletes as "gladiators," but the fact remains that many student-athletes who are featured on ESPN, ABC, or Fox every Saturday, struggle to fill up their cars with gasoline when it's time to go home for the holidays (Meggyesy, 2000). On this point, the NCAA has acquiesced to a small degree by instituting a "cost of attendance" stipend intended to cover expenses not included in tuition, room and board, and books; typically this stipend amounts to approximately $800 per month during the school year, depending on the college or university. Even after the cost of attendance stipend is included, the exchange remains unbalanced because the NCAA employs an essentially cost-free--and disproportionately Black--labor force and offers the "mere pittance" of a scholarship in return (Meggyesy, 2000). While the value of free tuition should not be minimized, student-athletes often receive an inferior college education. Calls to "fairly compensate" athletes have been heard in the Supreme Court and in the chambers of Congress, with Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (D-CT) recently releasing a report criticizing the $14-billion-a-year intercollegiate athletics industry "for spending more on coach salaries than player scholarships," arguing that the current system "enriches broadcasters, apparel companies, and athletic departments at the expense of athletes" (Hruby, 2019). All of these criticisms and calls to action from former players, ex-administrators, columnists, and members of the general public are well-founded. The status quo is situated precariously within the legislative framework of the NCAA and amateur athletics. While there was a time when the NCAA was right to protect its athletes from malicious corporate interests, that was also a time when the NCAA earned only modest revenues and college sports was yet to become "big business." In light of the ballooning of the sports entertainment industry in the last quarter-century, the NCAA should compensate athletes in proportion to the revenues they create for their respective institutions, holding the full amount in trust until the athletes have exhausted their collegiate eligibility

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