two of the noble principles on which the NCAA justifies its existence
--"amatuerism" and the "student-athlete"--are cynical hoaxes, legalistic
confections propgated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and
fame of young athletes
Friday, September 16, 2011
The NCAA is little more than a thug protecting pimps
But this is not all fun and games, as the Atlantic says, major college athletics has become a massive, multi-billion dollar business. So how does that coincide with the idea and propoganda of "amateurism"?
Now, if you've been following along for years, the slow transition in to this has become more and more obvious. And recent scandals, from Reggie Bush to Terrelle Pryor, from Cam Newton to Shaprio in Miami, have been rocking the boat, but this is nothing new. The Atlantic does a good job capturing the picture, and also giving the historical context of how the sham "hoaxes" have been going on pretty much since the beginning when Walter Camp was spreading the gospel of football, and Teddy Roosevelt sought to tip the balance in favor of his alma mater, Harvard, at the expense of Camp's, Yale. It notes a 1929 Carnegie Foundation report describing cash payments, no-show jobs, and other inducements given to the young athletes just like yahoo and others report today. It notes how, as you see in the "real cost" arguments for paying players now, that the University of Virgina once said payments to 'student-athletes' [a term crafted to avoid paying workman's comp benefits] would be understandable and forgiven due to the rigors of their academics.
The NCAA tried to stop these payments then, in what appears to be just so that they could make the money instead of the kids. As the article quotes famed sneaker seller and bane of college purists, Sonny Vaccaro, "You sold your souls and you're going to continue selling them. You can be very moral and righteous in asking me [why universities are advertising tools for Nike, adidas, Reebok, and now UnderArmour, among others] sir,... but there's not one of you in this room that's going to turn down any of our money. You're going to take it. I can only offer it."
What Vaccaro said about shoe companies, almost unabashedly saying they buy schools and coaches to get kids and advertising streams, Georgia fans have already seen in full flagrante on September 3rd. And ESPN has come in over the last couple decades, and raised the stakes buying more control for their network and various commerical interests. As the article states, "what Vaccaro said in 2001 was true then, and it's true now: corporations offer money so they can profit from the glory of college athletics, and the universities grab it." We saw the NCAA fight back, sanctioning Georgia and Oklahoma after they dared to challenge the cabal suing for the opportunity to be televised en masse like we see now instead of the system 30+ years ago where you'd be lucky to get more than one game a week (illustrated by the wonderful paragraphs on Walter Byers, who established the preception-only power of the NCAA in to something more concrete.
The article goes on, in the "Restitution" section, to illustrate just how the NCAA strong arms enforcement of arbitrary rules, often in petty pissing matches to get back against those who dare challenge their tenuous authority. In describing the Florida St case on academic violations, it shows just how insane the punishment process is, hurting those who cooperate while rewarding those who deny, and even blackballing some cooperators with "show cause" rulings that make them effectively unhireable in their profession.
It goes on to show the curious technique of scholarships being only one year rollover contracts, which the school can cancel whenever it wants but the kids have to suffer if they violate any part of it or want out, and spit in the face of the NCAA's so-called mission to educate these young men and women. Again, paying attention makes it obvious they don't, and never have, cared about educating 'student-athletes', only using it as cover for their desire to grab more money. As the article goes on to state, if "education" is a primary goal, how can numerous 'student-athletes' at multiple schools, for multiple years, somehow enter school and come out the other side as functional illiterates? Or why a majority of 'student-athletes' have the same major, essentially majoring in eligibility (pick a school, you'll find a bulk of football and men's basketball athletes share a degree path which is primarily designed to ensure eligibility, not education).
While the growing number of athletes willing to challenge the NCAA gives hope, and the possibility of restructuring in to super conferences might help end the guise of "amateurism" that attempts to keep up the facade', we don't show Taylor Branch's optimism of major changes bringing reform. As he notes, there is too much interconnection between the money streams of corporations, academic, and politics that each hand washes the other. There is too much of an established interest in keeping up the revenue streams of TV, video games, clothing lines, and various other corporate interests for the system to be overhauled. Tweaked to help stop attacks seems almost inevitable, but a massive shift in how this multi-billion dollar business operates? We've gone too far down the rabit hole for that.