Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Frank Deford on NCAA Hypocrisy

At NPR today, Frank Deford voices a strong opinion about college athletics.  It is one that I happen to agree with:
Next week, at some place in Indianapolis where time has been instructed to stand still, Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, will convene what is being called, without irony, a "retreat."

Assembled will be about 50 college presidents, pledged, it seems, to make sure that college athletics continue to remain firmly in the past, in the antiquated amateur hours. . .

If the retreat would only admit that the reason integrity has flown the coop is because it is impossible to maintain the fiction that billion-dollar entertainment industries –– which is what ticket sales, concessions and TV contracts make college football and basketball to be –– simply cannot logically exist when everybody is making money but the entertainers themselves. Never mind fairness; it is against human nature. The system obliges hypocrisy and mandates deceit.

Yet a stated purpose of the retreat is to "maintain amateurism" –– even as more and more observers and insiders, including coaches, have changed their minds and concluded that the NCAA must acknowledge that the 19th century really did end sometime ago. . .

The NCAA's stated defense for athletic penury is "student-athletes should be protected from exploitation." Hear! Hear! But right now, it's the NCAA member colleges which exploit football and basketball players.

Would there be just one president at the retreat who would speak the truth and acknowledge that the only true reason for amateurism in big-time college sport is because it allows colleges to get something for free with which to amuse the paying students and fleece the wealthy alumni?

1 comment:

  1. So what's the solution? Typical of Deford, that monumental blowhard, he's all problem and no solution. How do you decide who to pay, and what to pay them. Are you going to pay them minimum wage for the time they spend at practice, like a lab tech, or are you going to look at the size of the pie and decide how to divvie it up, like the NFL? Is there a national cap on pay, or do Texas and Alabama and USC get to spend their millions recruiting the best players from across the country with bonuses? And exactly where does the money come from to pay women? Do women athletes get equal pay for equal work?