For most of us, college is a stepping stone, a platform to springboard into the rest of our lives. For others, college is one step away from dollar signs.
The supposed goal of further education is to get a degree in a chosen field. The National Collegiate Athletic Association has turned college into a system of farm teams for pro sports, football and basketball in particular. The film, “Schooled:The Price of College Sports” showcased the glamour of the NCAA, and its dark side.
. “I had no options. I wanted to play in the NFL, and the NCAA is the best farm club for the NFL”, said Arian Foster, a Running Back for the Houston Texans.
What is the real issue with the NCAA? Frank Deford of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and Sports Illustrated said it best, “You want the path to the pros? “You’ve got to come play for us, and play for free. Thank you very much”, said Deford.
While the NCAA may be a synonym for money, the phrase “student-athlete” is a synonym for being an indentured servant. In exchange for scholarships, athletes must declare themselves as amateurs, prohibited from payment or many other benefits.
The NCAA is classified a tax exempt, non-profit organization, an organization that amassed 71 million dollars in 2012 through the sale of jerseys, merchandise, video games, licensing agreements, and media contracts.
At times, players had no food to eat. Foster told his coach, “ We have no food. We have no money. Either you bring us some food, or I’m going to go out and do something stupid,” he said, “and he came down and he brought like 50 tacos for four or five of us, which is an NCAA violation.”
Johnathan Franklin, a running back for the University of California, Los Angeles has a scholarship of $28,000. UCLA costs $31,500 per year. However, coaches like Nick Saban can eat to their heart’s content thanks to $7 million.
“It was total bulls***, but you don’t say anything because if you say anything then you’re stepping out of line which will hurt your chances of getting to that next level,” said Foster. “It’s a brilliantly devised, evil scheme to keep kids quiet.”
Foster is talking about that previously stated student-athlete scheme that says players are doing it for the love of the game, as an extracurricular activity.
Amateurism is supposed to mean playing for the love of the game, with friends, with no one watching. When did amateurism become, “I’ll play and get nothing. even though my name is on those jerseys, it’s me in that video game, I’m the one on ESPN, but someone else can have what I deserve” ?
College basketball analyst Jay Bilas said, “The star English student isn’t told, If you write a book you will lose your scholarship.”
An education is great, a free one is even better, but in this case it is not enough. The NCAA is massive and has a lot of bills to pay, but there is more that can be done to compensate those doing the real work that goes into games.
The glass has shattered around the perfect image of the NCAA. The facade is over, if you peek behind the curtain, you will see that the men and women that play under this organization are athletes first and students second.