Monday, November 12, 2007

The Players Are Getting Shortchanged

Michael Lewis, author of "The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game," has a terrific op-ed piece in the New York Times titled "Serfs of the Turf." Oh, how college football players are getting screwed. Writes Lewis:

"At this moment there are thousands of big-time college football players, many of whom are black and poor. They perform for the intense pleasure of millions of rabid college football fans, many of whom are rich and white. The world’s most enthusiastic racially integrated marketplace is waiting to happen.

"But between buyer and seller sits the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to ensure that the universities it polices keep all the money for themselves — to make sure that the rich white folk do not slip so much as a free chicken sandwich under the table to the poor black kids. The poor black kids put up with it because they find it all but impossible to pursue NFL careers unless they play at least three years in college. Less than one percent actually sign professional football contracts and, of those, an infinitesimal fraction ever make serious money. But their hope is eternal, and their ignorance exploitable."

Lewis lays out an argument for college players being paid. Using a rough formula, he says Texas would have paid Vince Young roughly $5 million for the 2005 season. "In quarterbacking the Longhorns free of charge, Young, in effect, was making a donation to the university of $5 million a year — and also, by putting his health on the line, taking a huge career risk."

Lewis writes that under this system, those players who wish "to enjoy the pure amateur experience can continue to play for free."

On a sidenote, here is a link to an interview last year with Lewis, Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders and the Wiz on the Public Radio International show "Open Source With Christopher Lydon."

Thanks to Greg and Kevin of We Are Penn State.


Anonymous said...

Does he explain how any of these plans work with Title IX on the books. It seems that any plan treating male football players differently than female student athletes would be declared unconstitutional in about 30 days.

Mike said...

I agree that most fans are white... but rich?


If my favorite team raised their ticket prices higher, I know several people who couldn't or just wouldn't go. They have their priorities. I also understand that this is a multi-billion dollar business. If there is a segment of the population getting screwed by the universities and the NCAA(shocking, I know), then why are these alleged politically correct tv networks paying the gross national product of some countries to broadcast these games.

As for the players, if you are willing to bypass your dream of playing in the NFL, then skip college. Go play arena football, Brother(I 'll always like Dan Hawkins).

The vast majority of these minorities are not there for the education. That's secondary. A college degree does cost a good bit of money but a degree is not a lottery ticket to instant millions. It is all about getting your name called by Roger Goodell in April. The best recruiting tool a coach can use today is nothing he can say. It's his ability to put guys in the pros.

If African Americans feel so strongly that college football sa a whole is screwing them, then don't accept the scholarship. Al Sharpton should hold a press conference and say that African Americans should only accept scholarships if they are academic. Or better yet, accept them from only "traditionally black colleges"(who are also part of the NCAA). I would expect that level of hipocrisy from him. If that is your belief, stick to it. You can have a "sit in" against the NCAA. Somehow I don't think that will be the case.

Save me your righteousness, Mr. Lewis. I'm sure it's easy to see all the world's ills from high up on your ivory...opps I mean ebony tower.

James H said...

I really don't know why so many fans of the game want to make the College Game like the NFL.

These are kids out High school for goodness sake.

Football is a money maker at some schools. It fund many of the other sports programs that are not money makers but are associated with a Major University.

If we pay players get ready for the tax exemption to be gone.

Also and this is a huge error or something that he overlooks. Most Football programs are not in the black. THey are in the red. We have 114 Div 1 teams out there.

Io the State of Louisiana only one Public University does not have to go to the State legislature and ask for money for the Athletics.. That is LSU. The rest do.

I find little persuasive in this argument that college players should be paid. I know I don't want LSU associated with it.

Perhaps Mr Lewis if he thinks people are being short changed should ask the NFL to do a FARM teams for thi spoor souls. The reason he doesn't is he knows it would be a huge flop.

The NCAA should worry more about pouring money into Academic facilties for the student athlete. Not into the pockets of a twenty year old.

Anonymous said...

If the athletes should be paid, then they should subtract the cost of tuition, room and board and books that they are getting for free right now from the payment. The athletes already are getting paid -- a free education. What does it cost these days to attend Notre Dame or Stanford or Northwestern or any other private school for five years? If athletes believe they are getting screwed playing big-time college football, then maybe they should go play Division III, where there are no scholarships.

Anonymous said...

I love the line about "playing quarterback for the Longhorns free of charge." The only players who play "free of charge" are walk-ons and the guys in Division III.

Purdue Matt said...

The players are not getting short changed. They are getting a free education. At places like Purdue, they are getting a great education that will help them have a prosperous life after football

Purdue Matt said...

Not all college football fans, alumni, boosters, etc.. are white nor rich. Not all college football players are black and poor.

TB said...

Sorry, no sympathy here. As a former undergraduate student who paid his way through school, I'm not going to feel sorry for anyone who gets their way paid. If they choose to do nothing with the 5-digit-per-year value of their scholarship, that's their decision.

Oh yeah, and if we allow schools to pay players according to what they are worth to the school, get ready for a system that would make MLB look like a level playing field. If schools can pay players any amount they want, you can go ahead an eliminate 110 teams from contention from contention.

seamus said...

I'm glad all the other commenters are calling bullshit. While I think it's prejudicial and probably racist to contend that the "vast majority of these minorities are not there for the education," calling scholarship players "unpaid" is completely unfair.

Most of the fans buying tickets are students or alumni. If a Texas game pulls in 60,000 fans, what do you estimate as the total student debt load carried by those fans?

Finally, I don't want to hear any more about the money the players are making for the schools. The schools aren't for-profit corporations -- they're institutions of higher learning, and those institutions are raising tuition at twice the rate of inflation just to keep up with their costs.

Anonymous said...

Football & Basketball should have a farm system like Baseball. Minor league ball is alive and well and hasn't killed off the NCAA for players who value education. Some major leager's come up through pro ball, some colleges, but at least they have a choice. The big U's are getting rich on the football players' backs and the NFL doesn't have to bear the cost of weeding out talent so nobody challenges the system.