Pity the poor, hard working amateur

You know the schools’ argument for amateurism is running on fumes when you get to this level of hairsplitting:

“The fact is we have student-athletes in all sorts of sports that, if you apply any form of value to their labor, you cannot pay football players and not pay gymnasts just because the football player has the blessing of an adoring public,” Bowlsby continued. “That’s the only difference. There are a lot of student athletes that are worthy.”  [Emphasis added.]

Right.  Bowlsby’s conference members can’t reward football players for participating in an economically attractive enterprise because they don’t work any harder than other student-athletes.  However, that’s not stopping schools from demanding ESPN and Fox pay them more for their football players’ participation in an economically attractive enterprise because they don’t work any harder than other student-athletes.  The only difference in those two cases is the NCAA’s artificial amateurism construct.

Put it this way.

“Revenues derived from college athletics is greater than the aggregate revenues of the NBA and the NHL,” said Marc Edelman, an associate professor at City University of New York who specializes in sports and antitrust law. He also noted that Alabama’s athletic revenues last year, which totaled $143 million, exceeded those of all 30 NHL teams and 25 of the 30 NBA teams.

Now let’s play a little with that quote from Bowlsby.

“The fact is we have organizations in all sorts of sports that, if you apply any form of value to their labor, you cannot pay Alabama and not pay an NHL team just because the football school has the blessing of an adoring public,” Bowlsby continued. “That’s the only difference. There are a lot of sports leagues that are worthy.”

As a former wrestler, how does that sound to you, Bob?  If the management of a pro basketball team or pro hockey team works as hard as the Alabama athletic department, do you think Bowlsby would suggest that their revenues should be equalized, even though their economic popularity isn’t?  Not on your life.  So why should a football player be expected to relinquish his value in a way that Bowlsby would never consider doing?

You know, if the assholes running college athletics had to live by the same amateurism standard to which they seek to hold players, this whole charade would have been amicably settled a long time ago.

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81 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

81 responses to “Pity the poor, hard working amateur

  1. Normaltown Mike

    “So why should a football player be expected to relinquish his value in a way that Bowlsby would never consider doing”

    Nobody is asking. If Kain Colter wants to pursue other options. then he is free to do it. If he wants to play NCAA football at Northwestern, then he has to accept the raping and pillaging of his likeness by the fascists on the girls volleyball team.

    • Nobody is asking? Gee, I must be missing the point to all those lawsuits the NCAA is fighting.

      And blaming the girls’ teams is bullshit. That’s a choice the schools and NCAA are making. Nobody asked the girls.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        And no-Goddam-body asks the parents of the girls.

        The parents who have spent their own time and money, willingly of course, to prepare their daughters to be noticed enough to get a college scholarship, then find out their spending days are not done because the college scholarship does not provide their daughter with enough income to buy a Happy Meal once a week.

        Football, and in some places, so I read, basketball. may make the big bucks and provide a few players with professional opportunities but the kids who play “minor sports” in college work just as hard as any football player. Are they treated equally by anybody including the NCAA?

        Fuck no.

        And these kids are treated unequally why? Because the schools can.

      • Normaltown Mike

        They are told by an authoritarian regime (NCAA) “this is the way it is”. They are not asked (or axed for that matter) anything. If they want to pursue their dreams elsewhere… Go for it.

        • I assume if the day comes that the NCAA is told by a court “this is the way it is”, you’ll be just as sanguine in your advice to Emmert and Delany.

          The only difference between the schools and the kids is that nobody has dictated terms to the NCAA… yet.

          • Normaltown Mike

            Actually, yes. Which is why I enjoy post judgment collections though I wouldn’t dare be a plaintiff’s trial attorney.

            If the court says “X” then that is the law of the land.

            I’ll give you major props for sticking to your leftist guns. Your truth to power/social justice hackles are stronger than your love of the college football game. When it’s destroyed, let me know what spectator sport you take up.

            • You gotta love it. Up is down. Down is up. Advocating free market treatment for student-athletes is leftist social justice.

              • Normaltown Mike

                Scholar athletes aren’t in the “free market”. Or didn’t you notice?

                No doubt those evil Koch brothers tricked them into getting a free ride to bounce or throw a ball.

                • The thing is, I’m not totally unsympathetic to your argument. The problem you’ve got is that the people you’re defending are such relentlessly hypocritical shitheads that you wind up tying yourself in logistical knots to stake out a position.

                  • Normaltown Mike

                    Not to split hairs, but I’m defending a status quo that provides academic opportunity to over 400K scholar athletes, not Mark Emmert, et al.

                    If the 1% of college athletes that have a real marketable skill set lose out to an unfair system that helps out thousands of others, I’m ok with that. They can try their wares elsewhere if they are being starved as Shabazz Napier asserts.

                    • Mark Emmert is part and parcel of the status quo you defend.

                    • Normaltown Mike

                      “Mark Emmert is part and parcel of the status quo you defend”

                      So are 400K scholar athletes.

                      One number is larger than the other, but I’m fuzzy on math.

                      Maybe if I was an elite 1%er and went to a school like UVA, I’d be able to tell ;)

                    • Alkaline

                      This was an interesting thread. So you agree that some college athletes are being treated unfairly, but don’t believe it’s worth arguing for change since the system works for the majority? That makes sense to me from a strictly school-focused perspective.
                      Except, I’m with the Senator in that there is no alternative for those few students except going to school. The NFL, NBA, & NCAA are effectively all making money by using the amateur approach to run non-taxable and profitable minor leagues within schools. Circumstances have become such that doing both is no longer a logically defensible position.

                    • They can try their wares elsewhere if they are being starved as Shabazz Napier asserts.

                      Nice.

          • Scorpio Jones, III

            Are you sure it is true that nobody has dictated terms to the NCAA…that meeting of the five big dogs may not have been dictational, but I bet they was some feets being put down.

        • AthensHomerDawg

          thaz just the way it is…

    • mp

      If volleyball players miss out on $$$ because the market dictates there is no value in their product, there is nothing is stopping those volleyball players from trying out for the football team. Best of luck to them.

    • ME

      FYI, I asked multiple womens golfers from 16 of the top 25 teams @ a tournament in Hilton Head, SC last month how much time they practice & spend competing. Every one said 4-5 hours a day 7 days a week except when playing in a tournament. Last week, I ran into the U of Illinois womens golf team @ my neighborhood course practicing after competing in a tournament the prior 3 days. This was during spring break. Most of these girls were business, psychology, public relations, biology, spanish, early child development, etc majors and were earning good grades. These girls bust their asses for UGA just like the football & basketball players but don’t get the same “star” treatment & bennies. Heck yes the $ from football & basketball should be spread around to support the other sports. I don’t care how much $ the school/AD earns off of any sport. If you are not there for the education via a free scholarship, go earn your keep on your athletic talent in some minor league. Unhappy with the NFL rules, go sue them for the right to earn a job

  2. Mg4life0331

    You know, this article is probably the best damning article there could have been. Nice find Senator.

  3. I just wish the pay-the-players crowd would acknowledge the players are in fact currently paid. They provide a service (football), and the schools then pay them in training, education and actual money for living expenses. What I want to see if a full-cost-of-attendance stipend put in place. The money they can’t make due to not having the time for a job should be paid to them. I have no clue how much that would be, but I assume it’s easily figured out. However, the fact that we all cheer for the Georgia G on the front, not the name on the back does have weight. The institutions are bigger than one player. Did Johnny Manziel make a lot of money for Texas A&M? Yeah, he did. But he’s also now a star with a Nike contract and a first round playing deal about to be signed. Would he have gotten that at La Tech? I doubt it. The investment from the school in coaching, facilities and support staff helped pave the way for Manziel to become JFB. The name on the front of his jersey helped him (greatly) become that star. So saying players aren’t getting compensated for their worth is a bit misleading. Their worth, in a lot of ways, is created by the institution they belong to.

    • Debby Balcer

      It is not only about the star players it is about the entire team. It is also about health benefits for injuries. I don’t see anyone requiring HOPE scholarship recipients to do anything other than keep their grades to keep their scholarships. The scholarship responsibilities are stringent and favor the school. The students need a real voice.

      • I agree with this. I think almost all of what the N’Western kids want is great and should be given to them. The medical stuff and a say in how and what is demanded of them should be agreed to. And the scholarships do favor the school, but which side has more invested in football, the player or the institution?

      • sniffer

        If I choose to volunteer at the local Red Cross, I dont get to dictate, demand or suggest anything. I ask what the rules and regs are and abide by them, or, I walk away. Every athelete in every collegiate sport knows what the rules are and chooses to abide by them. If the risk is too great, they can walk. If the reward is too great, they know what they’re getting. How and why is it they need a voice ?

        • You honestly believe that the typical 18-year old knows exactly what he’s getting into when he signs that NLI? Why? Because his recruiter told him so?

          • sniffer

            No, I dont believe that and I don’t think the NCAA had the kids best interest in mind, either. What , exactly, would a third party (union) get for representing the players? Do they get paid and where would that come from? Do you believe the conferences would renunerate the unions? Would the kids pay out of their stipend?

            • I would assume that’s all stuff that would have to be negotiated.

              And unlike current circumstances, it’s all stuff that the players will have representation for when they negotiate.

        • Hackerdog

          As has been pointed out in earlier posts, nobody is forcing the schools to have an athletic program, either. UGA can easily convert all of its athletic programs into intramural activities that don’t provide scholarships. Sure, the money would disappear, but that might be better than buying health insurance for athletes, right?

        • James

          “How and why is it they need a voice ?”

          This is a pretty outrageous comment.

          • James

            You know that Nick Saban is making $7 million a year to direct 18-year-olds around in an activity that is linked with brain injury, right? And that Mark Emmert makes $1 million a year to enforce the rule that those 18-year-olds become automatically ineligible if they hire an agent to review the terms of NLI, which currently don’t even guarantee their ability to get a degree for free or continued health care if they suffer a performance-affecting injury?

            That doesn’t strike you as a situation where the 18-year-old might need a little louder voice?

          • sniffer

            It’s a question and why is it outrageous? Are you ready to pay more for your Hartmann Fund membership and game tickets? How about a surcharge on all licensed merchandise? That’s the only way I see the kids getting their “voice”. It’s gonna cost somebody and that somebody is us.

            • What do you think will happen if the NCAA loses a bunch of antitrust suits?

              • sniffer

                Geez, Senator, I think the answer is easy. The NCAA goes away, as we know it, and the power conferences distance themselves from the liability. Not that the Slives and Scotts can do much better at managing college athletics..

            • DawgPhan

              I dont mind paying more for football tickets. UGA provided me and my wife great educations that allow us to earn a decent living. Spending a few extra dollars to make sure that the student athletes who provide me so much enjoyment dont go to sleep hungry is a no brainer.

              The thought of paying more tomorrow than I paid today doesn’t scare me because I know that my ability to go and earn the most money the market will allow me to make is no being hindered.

            • James

              So you don’t want the players to have a seat at the table because you’re worried about the price of UGA license plate covers? Seriously?

              That’s a false argument anyway: at most schools the tickets and gear are priced at the highest point the market will bear already, and if they aren’t, they will be soon regardless of the outcome of pay-for-play…in fact this maximization of revenue without any expansion in player benefits is exactly what got us here in the first place.

              They people this “costs” are the high-salaried administrators at the NCAA. Or the softball coach at Michigan making $300,000 a year. Or the facilities managers who aren’t going to be able to do that crazy new stadium expansion. No one is going to try and sell you a $70 t-shirt, I promise.

            • Hackerdog

              You assume that the system is perfectly efficient as is? That the athletic departments/NCAA has not a penny to spare to spend on student welfare?

    • reipar

      I both acknowledge and agree they are getting paid. However, you have to acknowledge that based upon the amount of money their labor brings in the current payment they are receiving is not equitable. If we are only cheering for the “G” then why does the bookstore sell jerseys with the players names on the back. The “G” gives them the opportunity, but their effort/ability are what make that “G” jersey popular.

      I also do not see the problem with only paying the sports you want to pay for. If UK wants to pay their basketball players then it is up to UGA to decide if they want to compete or not. Maybe UConn will decide to pay both their men’s and women’s basketball players, but not their football players. Good for them. Put the money where it makes the most sense.

      • AthensHomerDawg

        ” However, you have to acknowledge that based upon the amount of money their labor brings in the current payment they are receiving is not equitable. ” Stop that! It’s just “bidness” The children in the Nike sweatshops in Vietnam may start to get ideas. Isn’t it bad enough that the IPAD assemblers are jumping off roofs creating bad PR! Gheez!

    • And I just wish the amateurism-is-sacred crowd would acknowledge that this whole “we don’t need to pay them anything now because we’re increasing their future worth” defense is something they wouldn’t tolerate themselves in their first job.

      • reipar

        +1. It is if the amateurism-is sacred crowd feels capitalism and the free market are bad things in college sports. If that happened to them in their profession they would go nuts.

      • It’s not a sacred cow. I think openly paying players (which is what the full cost of attendance is) proves my opinion of status quo. However if we’re going to pay the players, upon what scale do we operate? Is it every player equally? Or is it based on production? Does JFB make as much as, say, the crappy UGA punter? Are we looking out for CFB players, or CFB stars?

        And to your comment on the first job, that’s exactly how it is. The guy busting his ass in the mail room so the CEO makes 500 times the average employee is a reality is it not? And, as I said, the schools are paying them and I am asking for them to pay more. It’s not one or the other for me. I do think saying JFB “deserves” to be paid is a bit much, but I do think he should be paid more. However the Jay Bilas’s of the world refuse to admit that they are, in fact, getting paid as we speak. So the argument isn’t that players should be paid, but rather how much of a raise they should get. And those two arguments aren’t the same thing.

        • And to your comment on the first job, that’s exactly how it is. The guy busting his ass in the mail room so the CEO makes 500 times the average employee is a reality is it not?

          Straw man alert!

          Nobody’s saying pay the newbie like the boss. Just pay the newbie fair market value for the position as opposed to telling the newbie how valuable the experience is.

          • So it would be based on positional worth or value (i.e. QB, DE, LT make the most, etc….)? Or production? Also, it’s not much a straw man is it? You referenced “first job,” which is generally entry level demanding a lot of training and initial costs to then gain in the long term with more output. Right? Isn’t that what a freshman is? So it seems like the push for payment isn’t to help all players, but to help star players, no? So essentially the back-up center isn’t worth anything until he produces?

            • Whatever the market will bear is my mantra. Then again, I’ve always been more focused on what a kid can earn off his likeness than I’ve been about being paid a salary by the school.

              • The Olympic model is a popular opinion, but it does nothing for 95+% of the players. Couple that with the reality of what would happen when boosters started paying HS kids to sign and I think it would be better for the institutions to cover the full cost of attendance, treat CFB as an entry level job and be done with it. Does that mean some guys won’t get as much as they could by going to Nike? Probably, but that would be a more utilitarian approach than creating the 1%’s in the locker room.

                • Oh, yeah, that 1% in the locker room. I guess rich kids and kids who signed professional contracts to play other sports first are all cancers in the locker room.

                  One reason we admire sports is because there’s usually a fairly transparent meritocracy in play (unless Willie Martinez is your defensive coordinator ;) ). If some players getting paid more than others – even a lot more – were as big a problem as you insinuate, it’s hard to see how the pro leagues could put a product on the field.

                  You never see pro players striking against each other, just against the franchise owners. I wonder why that is.

      • Scorpio Jones, III

        See what happens when you let your work force learn to read?

      • Patrick

        Really? I did.
        Made $28k for 2+ years in a corporate training program while learning the ropes. My bosses made more than me, utilizing my labor. And now I make more, for the same company. Seems to happen a lot in all fields.

        Note: I’m not a “keep the amateur status quo” guy. Something needs to happen. Just countering that comment.

        • Making $28K isn’t an unpaid internship. You got paid something in line with what an open market said you were worth in your line of work. Student-athletes aren’t given that choice and are told as justification for their situation that they’re receiving compensation that will be valuable to them in the future.

          • They’re also given money and have comped education, something that has a (very large) cash value, no? Is that not payment?

            • You try to make it sound as if all entry level jobs are created equal. That’s not the case. Instead, those with special skills generally earn more than those without. Just ask any law school grad worthy enough to land a big firm job.

              All I’m saying is that compensation should reflect current market worth, not Mark Emmert’s vision of what the future may have in store.

              • You know what that law grad needed before he could get into that firm? So perhaps you should consider the three years spent at UGA playing QB a JD in football. Problem solved.

                • And the craziest part is the law grad PAID for his. UGA is covering those costs for the quarterback.

                  • South FL Dawg

                    You make some good points but one thing that you don’t talk about is the revenue stream into the athletic departments. If you are ok with paying the players just for their cost of attendance, then fine, but where is the added revenue going? The coaches, AD’s, and other administrators are not being paid just for their cost of living.

                    On the other hand, the value of a college education, great as it is, does not cost the schools anything but the marginal cost of putting another student in a seat. Sorry Stanford but you too.

                    Endorsements would not cost the schools anything, if only athletes wouldn’t lose their eligibility over it.

                    Somebody else already said this but the question is not really “should players be compensated” because they already are, but more like “what should their compensation be.” Now that’s a loaded question that I’m neither smart enough nor foolish enough to get into here. I will say that schools can figure out how much to pay their coaches and athletic administrators so there’s that.

                • Yeah, well, I went to law school. I don’t remember risking my health to earn a degree. I also don’t remember the school getting paid millions to broadcast my performance to the public.

                  • Hackerdog

                    Maybe we should ask Eric LeGrand whether his labor studies diploma was worth paralysis?

                    • Normaltown Mike

                      Maybe we should ask that ATO that died in 2K whether joining a fraternity was worth death?

                  • reipar

                    When I went to law school they sold jerseys with my name on it and once a week CBS broadcast me sitting in class taking notes. :)

      • James

        “we don’t need to pay them anything now because we’re increasing their future worth”

        Here’s a study I REALLY want to see: if you exclude future worth of the athletes that go pro, what does a couple off classes crammed in between 50 hour weeks do for these student-athletes’ future prospects.

        E.g. — How much more over their lifetime does a 4-star wash out that Saban cuts after three years of college make than that player’s non-athlete peer from the same home town, school, and with the same high school academic involvement and performance?

    • Brcdavis

      I would say by many it’s not just misleading but disingenuous. There are two sides to every argument, but we usually just like to focus on one of them.

    • C.S.

      I just wish the pay-the-players crowd would acknowledge the players are in fact currently paid.

      Um . . . they do. In fact, it is the first and strongest basis for the ruling.

      [T]he fact that we all cheer for the Georgia G on the front, not the name on the back does have weight.

      No, not really, no. It doesn’t. It doesn’t have any weight at all. And not just because Georgia – as a state school – would be exempt from any consequences of the Northwestern ruling. It doesn’t have weight because the level of your passion for Georgia is not relevant to any questions of fairness to the players.

      Did Johnny Manziel make a lot of money for Texas A&M? Yeah, he did. But he’s also now a star with a Nike contract and a first round playing deal about to be signed. . . . The name on the front of his jersey helped him (greatly) become that star. So saying players aren’t getting compensated for their worth is a bit misleading. Their worth, in a lot of ways, is created by the institution they belong to.

      By this logic, actors should not be paid market value, because who ever heard of Daniel Craig before a few years ago? People are going to see James Bond! Craig’s worth is created by the institution he belongs to. So Daniel Craig should just suck it up and be grateful that he can now demand a higher price for non-Bond-related work, And hey — that LeBron James guy is lucky that he is allowed to play basketball and make millions off of endorsements. Why isn’t he happy with just the endorsement money? Why does he need to be compensated by his team as well? Don’t they provide him with training equipment? Don’t they pay for travel? Don’t they give him a venue that he can exploit by shilling for Gatorade? Why was he even allowed to leave Cleveland, the team that made him a star?

  4. Hackerdog

    I wonder how worthy the Southern Illinois football players are?

  5. DawgPhan

    I wish we could all agree that your work experience is nothing like the experience of a college athlete so we could stop with the “I was paid in beatings and cigarettes and I loved it because I was learning about corporate culture” arguments.

  6. Derek

    All of this is very resolvable. Here is what needs to happen:

    1) Schools stop marketing based on individual, current athletes. No jerseys with names or numbers tied to current stars. No video games with likeness attributes of any kind. No profiting of any kind based on players on the current roster. If the school wants to make money AFTER eligibility has expired, the school has to come to an arrangement with the former student athlete.

    2) Stop admitting kids who have zero interest in academics and/or no capacity for academics. Create a semi-pro market by allowing, purposefully, elite prospects to not find a home in college. When the NFL sees the possibility of a Clowney, for example, wandering the streets for three years, they will step up.

    If the schools stop whoring these kids out for money, they’ll stop asking for their fair share. If they want to continue to treat them solely as a means of making money, I have no pity on them and I hope the kids shake out a fair amount of money for their services.

    • C.S.

      Or they could, you know, just bargain collectively.

      The thing I can’t seem to get over with all the “save the system/tweak the system” proposals floating around is that every one of them is more complex, more unworkable, more unenforceable, and/or more of a headache than just sitting down at the freaking table and bargaining in good faith. They all – like the above – seem to have as their starting point an element of spite. “These kids want to negotiate for decent medical coverage, a reasonable expectation that a scholarship won’t be yanked away, and the right to not have us exploit their images without giving them squat? Well FINE — we should just torch it all and see who’s sorry then.” It’s ridiculous and counterproductive, and it makes the teenage athletes look like the only adults in the room.

      • Alkaline

        This. There was an article on SI a few months ago about the new governance model for the power 5 conferences. After the NCAA’s presentation one of the ADs asked where the students fit in to the model… The answer is they don’t. Based on current proposals Students will have representatives with two meaningless votes on the new division I oversight board. I foresee a lot of “245 to 2″ type of votes if that goes through.

    • AusDawg85

      +1…Your first point is really the issue. If the courts could get asked…and find…against the schools for using an athletes image/likeness without fair compensation then much of the problem goes away. More of the problem will be eliminated if the NCAA can find a way to permit athletes to make endorsements, yet stop boosters from unfairly gaming the system to benefit one school over another (not sure how to do this without requiring such proceeds to go into a trust like a qualified plan with limits on contributions/earnings and access…this would take Congress and the IRS involvement eventually, and not sure why they would even want to be a party to fixing this). Sadly, the NCAA and schools’ greed has taken them too far down the road to negotiate this point rationally, so the threat of unionization to bring other parties to the negotiating table is the path we are going down.

      I’ve heard the expression that bad facts make for bad case law…this surely seems to be the problem here.

      But I think your second point is off base…the education problem begins in the grade schools for far too many. Cutting academically marginal kids from a college athletic scholarship seems to be punishing the wrong party in the wrong way. Sure, some of the “star” athletes dream of going pro and may dismiss their education (or skip through it), but most of the scholarship athletes want and need the college education.

    • Hackerdog

      That’s certainly one option. The issue is, who is gonna go first? We all see the competitive disadvantage UGA faces from having a disciplinary system/police department that is more strict than its competitors. I certainly don’t want to start telling star recruits that they’ll have to go to Auburn/Tech/Bama because we won’t admit them.

  7. Doggoned

    For lots of people, the education problem began, not in grade school, but at home. But how many of those at-risk kids besides star athletes in a money sport get into UGA? Just wondering out loud. Not disagreeing with your points at all, but just thinking about how upside-down our whole culture is.

    • Dawgaholic

      Not sure I buy the arguments about other sports by the institutions. If all athletes are “equal” then why do the schools spend dramatically different amounts on their coaches.

      I’d bet if you take only Mark Fox’s salary out if the equation, UGA’s football staff makes more than the rest of the UGA AD combined. There’s a reason players should be treated differently if their coaches are too.

      • Hackerdog

        Well, it’s a stupid argument even on an academic basis. Would any UGA administrator claim that a women’s studies major is as economically viable as a S.T.E.M. field? Of course not. Some fields are worth more than others, based on the market. No headhunters are trolling college campuses looking for social work students that haven’t accepted a lucrative job offer yet.

  8. Always Someone Else's Fault

    High school football: officiating isn’t any worse, and you don’t have to watch FGs or extra points most of the time.

  9. Savdog

    Under Title IV, each and every female athlete will be entitled to the same benefit as any given male athlete. If a school pays a benefit to a quarterback, each female equestrian team member (for example) will have to be paid the same benefit. Those monies will have to come from somewhere and it won’t be from proceeds from the equestrian team events. It also won’t be from the endowment fund. Anything beyond a small stipend paid to all scholarship (Why not the walk ons? Don’t they practice as long as the stars? ) athletes would be unworkable.