Amateur athletes and the trickle down theory

Hey, I’ve knocked Andrew Zimbalist when he’s said something off base, so it only seems fair to give him credit when he gets something right.

The New York Times published a roundtable yesterday called “March Money Madness” that explored the question of paying college athletes.  Zimbalist points out the folly of these payment proposals – the vast majority of college athletic programs lose money, so adding this cost on would only serve to put them further in the red – but also notes that there are fixes that should be made to treat the kids more fairly.

It’s a point made by more than one of the participants in the discussion, but it seems more than a little crappy that some of these kids aren’t fully compensated for the cost of going to college but find themselves limited by the demands of their programs and by the amateur rules to go out and make a few bucks to cover the shortfall.  No, I’m not advocating a Rhett Bomar car dealership situation here, but it seems like some more effort could go into finding a satisfactory way to make sure kids that are generating revenue for their schools aren’t winding up in a financial hole as they contribute to that.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Amateur athletes and the trickle down theory

  1. Mike In Valdosta

    If a kid in biology/ag develops some new fancy fertilizer while in school at UGA, he will reap some of the benefits along with the school and some big company that provided a research grant. Fortunately for that student, the NCAA has no jurisdiction over science. For athletes to not participate, on some small scale, in any windfall the school reaps through their performance as a student/athlete is downright wrong.

    • Hobnail_Boot

      And how many people would be willing to pay the Biology Department for the privilege of watching that student develop the fertilizer? And put ‘Georgia Biology’ stickers on their car? And travel to Jacksonville and Baton Rouge to cheer that kid on?

  2. The Realist

    Room & board, tuition, and fees can amount to a substantial payment at certain schools. If, as the article suggests, that amounts to $40,000 a year at some schools, that’s not too bad. Considering there are 85 of these guys all making $40,000 per year, that’s $3,400,000 just to pay for the basics for the football team (which does not include incidentals, bowl prizes, the massive marketing machine of revenue sports, facilities, tutors, etc.). So, to say they aren’t getting a cut is erroneous. They are getting a cut. It’s the size of the cut that is being questioned.

    I do think the draft eligibility rules are onerous. I do think players should have more options when their coach bolts for greener pastures. I do think colleges should be more beholden to their athletes. Should a scholarship cover the complete, total, full cost of attending college and playing football? Eh, maybe. There is something to be learned from trying to make ends meet… from budgeting your money and squeezing every last cent out of each dollar you make. Perhaps it is more beneficial in the long run for these athletes to learn a valuable life lesson instead of getting a few extra dollars in their pocket each week.

    • I agree with your point about life lessons. But what about, say, the football player who wants a summer job – again, a real summer job – to put a few bucks in his pocket? Given the current level of demands from most big time programs, which call for workouts and summer school, it’s almost impossible to make time for an outside job. If a program is going to insist on a course of action that crimps the pocketbook, and in essence treats its own summer requirements as a job, why should the kid be penalized in the wallet as a result?