Posted by: Scott Groves | January 16, 2012

More reasons to hate the NCAA

Anyone who has looked into the business practices of the NCAA will probably accept that it is a truly evil organization.  I can’t think of any other system we have in the United States which so closely resembles the operations of the mafia.  Yet somehow the NCAA is completely legal.

Much has been written about the BILLIONS of dollars that pours into college football annually from TV contracts, tickets sales and the dreaded BCS bowl-game system.  However other than a potential college scholarship, the players, who are workers behind the “product”, receive no compensation.  With graduation rates of NCAA football players hovering around 50%- can the NCAA still argue that they places much value on the scholarships or the education players are receiving?  Players are generally not guaranteed scholarships if they are cut from the team, become injured or don’t make the roster their freshman year.  Does anyone really believe the NCAA cares about the “student” component of their “student-athlete” mantra?

Over the last several years it has been medically proven, beyond a reasonable doubt, that playing football at the college and pro level decreases life expectancy.  The repetitive blows to the head and concussions that are part of the game are known to cause brain damage, early on-set Alzheimer’s, paranoia and hundreds of other medical conditions.

Yet the NCAA allows thousands of college football players to risk killing themselves with limited, if any, compensation.

Can you imagine the American public, institutions of higher learning or the Government tolerating any other form of indentured servitude?

Away from the disaster which is college football there are heart-breaking stories like those of world-class swimmer Missy Franklin.   Missy Franklin is a 16 year-old swimmer who is expected to medal at the 2102 Olympics.  She has a huge financial problem.  Her problem is that people and companies keep offering her money and she can’t accept it.

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote a great article that chronicles Missy’s inability to receive compensation for being one of the best swimmers in the world.  Even though she is only sixteen and hasn’t decided on a college yet, the NCAA says that if she takes one penny from a sponsor, receives winnings for a swim tournament, or hires an agent to handle her daily press-requests, she will have effectively turned “pro”.  As a pro, she would be ineligible to swim for any college team in America.

So far Missy has had to turn down $130,000 in tournament winnings, cannot allow sponsors to pay the tens of thousands of dollars it costs her and her family to travel to swim-meets and is estimated to be passing up nearly $1 million in sponsorship money.

“I know my dad could be chillin’ in a Porsche in Hawaii,” Missy Franklin states, “however, I really want the option to swim on a team in college.  It’s something I look forward to.”

For “student-athletes” like Missy who compete in more obscure sports like swimming, the restrictions set by the NCAA are even more financially destructive.  For athletes that don’t compete in the big five (basketball, football, baseball, tennis, and golf) the twelve months surrounding the Olympics is their best time to capitalize on lucrative sponsorship deals.

With the 2012 games approaching, Missy has to decide if she wants to continue to be a huge financial burden to her parents and pass-up millions of dollars -OR- does she want to cash in on her rare talent and destroy her chances of swimming with a college team.

What is most disgusting is that the NCAA offers Missy no guarantees for her future while literally taking millions of dollars out of her pocket today.  If, god forbid, Missy is injured and cannot swim, she will not receive a scholarship from any college in America due to the athlete she used to be.  The NCAA treats all their athletes with a ‘what-have-you-done-for-me-lately’ type of attitude.

I believe athletes should be paid, have guaranteed scholarships and be reasonably insured against injury at the cost of the NCAA.  College football is such a huge money maker that I can’t see that system changing anytime soon.  However, I just don’t understand why the NCAA can’t, at the very least, find some middle ground in order to support those athletes like Missy Franklin who represent our country in the Olympics.

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