Amateurism and the romance of the status quo

Yesterday’s post about amateurism drew a lot of impassioned commentary in support of Bob Bowlsby’s argument that equal effort by student-athletes requires equal treatment by the schools and the NCAA.  The best example of that:

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

I don’t doubt the sincerity of that statement.  Nor do I doubt the effort that every one of those golfers gives.  But even starting with the assumption that each NCAA student-athlete busts as much ass as the next one, ultimately I don’t find the argument convincing.  The problem with the argument is that it romanticizes college athletics to an unrealistic extent.  The reality is that the playing field for student-athletes isn’t level right now.

First of all, as much as we’d like to think otherwise, equal effort isn’t rewarded equally.  I’m guessing that those lady golfers have scholarships from Georgia as a result of Title IX requirements, but their male counterparts (along with other male student-athletes participating in non-revenue sports) don’t fare as well in that department.  Again, if it’s all about equal effort, why should that be the case?  And taking Bowlsby’s line of reasoning out to its full extent, how can you justify a failure to treat every kid playing Division III sports to the same scholarship opportunities?  They work just as hard, right?

The answer is that they don’t make any money for their schools.  Hard work only goes so far when it comes to getting a piece of the pie.

Second, it’s a fool’s errand to pretend Emmert and Bowlsby aren’t aware of that.  Emmert and the power conference commissioners are pushing a stipend – hell, call that for what it is, player payment – for football and basketball student-athletes.  Why are they advocating different treatment for those student-athletes than for the rest of the 400,000+ they claim to represent?  Again, it’s not about the effort.  It’s about the revenue stream.

Third, the irony of the last two sentences of that comment doesn’t escape me.  Those women golfers have an avenue available to them that is denied to the players bringing in the money.  They can turn pro any time they want.  Indeed, they don’t even have to go to college to pursue a professional golf career if they’re talented enough.

College athletics is hyper-monetized now.  Nobody on the management side advocates going back to a simpler time; they can’t afford to.  So instead they pitch a bifurcated vision in which they claim the players in revenue producing sports must be insulated from the rewards of their efforts, even as they are forced to make greater sacrifices in the name of revenue generation (you think any of those women golfers have ever had to miss as much school as the kids who played for the national title last night did?) and in which any dollar delivered to those players has to come out of the pockets of the rest of the 400,000 student-athletes in some sort of zero-sum game.  Except for that stipend, of course.

Don’t insult my intelligence.

It’s not your father’s status quo anymore.  That didn’t just happen overnight, either, in case you haven’t noticed what an absolute cock-up SEC scheduling has become since Mike Slive decided he needed to revisit the conference’s broadcast deals.  And here’s the last thing to consider: what you’ve got now is nothing compared to what’s going to happen if and when the NCAA starts losing some of those antitrust suits.

Now, what we think doesn’t matter in the vast scheme of things.  But Bob Bowlsby?  Different story there.  Either the suits need to start smelling what they’re trying to sell to us and adapt to the times, or wait to get run over and lose the opportunity to direct where college athletics goes.  In any event, the rest of us had better get used to accepting the limited value of equal effort.

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51 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

51 responses to “Amateurism and the romance of the status quo

  1. Scorpio Jones, III

    These damn college kids from Chicago…they are forcing us to actually think about what college football really means to the kids who play…

    The NCAA is a dead horse. What we are watching and thinking about…

    (Ooops!! commercial break)

    is it’s death throes.

    (Commercial break)

    I just hope…

    (Commercial break)

    At the end of the day there is something resembling Georgia football in the

    (Commercial break)

    Fall.

  2. Reipar

    Some friends and I were discussing possible ix ramifications of the union ruling. I could see it resulting in a reduction in female scholarships. Right now softball, women’s golf, etc get more than their male counter part sports. However, if football players are employees their scholarships come out of the equation so you would not need the extra female scholarships to make up the difference for ix.

  3. Senator, what’s your opinion on how this gets resolved because I think this whole amateurism issue is at risk of destroying college sports as we know it? The NCAA can’t force the NFL and NBA to accept athletes directly out of high school especially those that don’t want to attend college for a certain number of years. No one wants to pony up the $$$$$ to establish and operate a minor league system like baseball or hockey for the NFL and NBA. A full-cost scholarship is clearly sufficient for student-athletes in the non-revenue sports like the women’s golf team mentioned above but may not be sufficient for the 2 sports which pay for everything else. Many (including myself) don’t want to see a pure pay-for-play model that turns college football and men’s basketball into MLB with Alabama as the New York Yankees and Ole Miss as the Minnesota Twins. Title IX makes it difficult, if not impossible, to establish one set of rules for the 2 men’s revenue sports and not apply that to the rest of the university’s athletic programs.

    • Hard to say. My gut says based on the way the big boys have handled things so far, that they’ll wait to see if the NCAA loses in court and then go to Congress for an antitrust exemption.

      Giving kids the right to market themselves has no Title IX repercussions, by the way.

      • Reipar

        The right go market themselves does not, but the ruling they are employees might.

        • Eh, maybe. Depends on how important generating revenue is to the definition of employee.

          • Reipar

            I would think if they can unionize because they are employees then their scholarship is actually considered university compensation. At that point a lot easier to comply with ix as do no have to count 89 football players.

      • I agree with the idea of kids’ ability to market themselves and profit from their names and likenesses as long as it doesn’t interfere with their scholarship commitments.

        I hate the idea of an antitrust exemption because it keeps the crumbling structure of the NCAA and its arcane rules in place. I don’t see why the five power conferences want to keep the NCAA in place other than to run national championships.

      • C.S.

        Would an antitrust exemption change anything? Baseball’s antitrust exemption doesn’t allow them to disband the player’s union.

        • The last suggestion for an exemption I saw went like this:

          The idea is to provide a limited antitrust exemption to the NCAA so it could legally change the amount of commercialism involved in college sports. For example, an antitrust exemption could allow the NCAA to limit coaches’ salaries, reduce the number of weeknight games, and prevent conference realignment if it’s based primarily on television markets and not in best interests of athletes, Sack said.

          Ironically, if the schools/NCAA wound up recognizing and negotiating with a players’ union, that might lead to an antitrust exemption as well.

          • I suspect the latter is where this is going: The power conferences strike a collectively bargained, one-size-fits-all deal with a recognized union that is framed around the basics of what the Northwestern players are asking for. Would keep Congress from barging in.

    • DawgPhan

      One, the game as we know it is going to die. Just as the game as your grandfather knew it died. The game is constantly evolving. Deny that at your own peril.

      It wont be the athletes who destroy the game, it will be the suits at the top who dont see the change coming.

      At every turn the leadership has sought to wring more money, more power, and more influence from the system all the while denying any chance for the SA to improve their situation or gain any amount of leverage. No one should be forced to accept that and we as fans shouldnt ask college students to accept it.

      • The game is clearly going to change. The multi-billion dollar question is whether the buying public is willing to pay for the changes.

        • DawgPhan

          well I am sure that we will find a free market solution for if the consumer wants to pay more for the product..

          Luckily if I decide to stop buying UGA tickets and want to start buying Falcons tickets the Hartman Fund can’t tell me that who I can buy tickets for or that I will have to wait a full season before buying another set of tickets.

          • The market will determine what the impact of the changes will be on the product. If people decide not to participate, the suits will have no one to blame but themselves because they killed the goose that laid the golden egg.

  4. Normaltown Mike

    Senator Blutarsky’s War on Women continues…

  5. Savdawg

    Under Title IX, female athletes will be entitled to the same benefits as male athletes: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…” Calling football players employees will not circumvent this law unless they are removed from any education programs. So the female third string catcher will be entitled to the same monies as the star football player–even though most sports are money losers.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Historically Title IX has been interpreted to only mean that numbers of scholarships available to women have to be roughly equivalent to numbers of scholarships available to men at a particular institution. That’s why some colleges dealt with Title IX by eliminating men’s programs in certain sports. That is why you have the anomaly at some schools of having a women’s golf team but no men’s golf team, a women’s swim team but no men’s swim team, no men’s wrestling team, etc. They have to make up for the scholarships given to football some way and eliminating men’s non-revenue producing sports was one way. I fear that if football and/or basketball players get paid through the universities and the courts force similar payment schemes for “minor” sports onto the schools we may see those other sports disappear from college scholarship programs and all become either totally walk-on or go to the club level.

    • They wouldn’t be discriminated against “on the basis of sex.” They’d be “discriminated against” on the basis of revenue generation. They’d be making the same amount (a scholarship) as male wrestlers, swimmers, gymnasts, etc. That seems like it would be proof that they weren’t being discriminated against on the basis of sex. But, as the good Senator said, we’ll see.

      • Savdawg

        You are trying to be logical and to use common sense. That is not how the law works. A federal court found that LSU violated Title IX by sending the men’s basketball team to Hawaii but not funding the same trip for the women’s volleyball team. Now, imaging paying a star tailback 25K and arguing to the judge that the school need not pay the cross county athlete the same amount because she does not sell any tickets. The school will be ordered to pay her–fast.

  6. Boz

    I know the argument can’t imply that these are school employees, but if I’m a revenue generating star, I’m arguing that many people work hard and end up with a wide degree of monetary results. Just because you work hard doesn’t mean you get paid the same. Certain jobs pay more than others, and it generally falls to profitability in your occupation.

  7. sniffer

    The “equal effort” argument is a ploy to scare us into thinking that our beloved college sports will be changed so dramatically that we won’t recognize it. How about letting kids, male and female, have the ability to sign with an agent out of high school. If the agent will take the potential risk, pay the athlete and help him/her to generate income off their image and licensed merchandise sales, who loses in that scenario?

    • Random thought, I wonder how many people would actually be interested in representing college athletes as agents? There really wouldn’t be much money in it for the agent. In the pros, the agents make most of their money off their client’s salaries. Under most of what is being talked about here, the only money to be made would be off of negotiating deals using the players’ likenesses, which is going to be a pretty small pot of money unless you have a large client base. A handful of players could possibly get big advertising deals in college, but no agent is gonna make much money just negotiating deals for Todd Gurley to represent one of the local Athens car dealerships. If there’s not much money to be made, you’re gonna end up with crappy agents.

      Unless, of course, the Bob Sugar’s of the world saw it as an investment. In a handful of cases I could see a big time agent signing a college athlete knowing that he won’t make much money now, but he can lock him up and represent him once he does turn pro.

      Not putting this out there as an argument for or against anything, I will just be curious to see how involved the top agents are willing to get at the college level if that ever becomes kosher.

      • mp

        I think there are two issues: 1) allowing players to consult with lawyers on NLI’s and their rights (for which I think there are an ample number of lawyers who would do so) and 2) agents in the IMG sense (which, I agree, really would only be limited to a small number of marketable athletes). Maybe there would be some spillover in terms of allowing a lawyer to represent Gurley in your example.

    • AthensHomerDawg

      The “equal effort” chant was puzzling to me. Why pick the lady golfers anyway? I don’t know of anyone that would spend a vacay traveling to an exotic local to do mat drills for a week. What about equal risk?
      Injury rate per 1,000 athletic exposures:
      Women’s ice hockey 0.91 Wow.
      Men’s spring football (American) 0.54
      Men’s ice hockey 0.41
      Women’s soccer 0.41
      Men’s football (American) 0.37
      Men’s soccer 0.28
      Concussion incidence based on study distribution (544 cases) (%):
      Football (American) 56.8
      Girls’ soccer 11.6
      Boys’ soccer 6.6
      Wrestling 7.4
      Girls’ basketball 7.0
      Softball 4.0
      Boys’ basketball 3.5
      Two things I noticed from the study. 1. Out of all sports measured golf was no where to be found. Granted you could be struck by a golf ball. That would sting. The only person I have ever known to be hit by one was sitting on his patio. 2nd- Girls are injured at a higher rate than guys playing the same sport.

  8. James

    “These girls bust their asses for UGA”

    This is where you lose me, and what I think drives home your point about romance, senator.

    The powers in charge decided a long time ago to keep the romance appearance, but run the AD as a business. The very honest divide in opinion here seems to stem from this interpretation.

    Here’s my interpretation: I don’t doubt for a second that every athlete in every sport is “busting their ass,” but in economic terms I completely disagree that it’s “for” UGA. If college sports are a business — and it’s being run like one by the NCAA and school ADs, all of which have no problem using business terms to talk about the “market value” of their services, or implementing “market based” dynamic ticket pricing.

    Football players give more back to UGA than they take in. In economic terms, the golf teams do not. So either stop running college sports like a business or deal with this issue.

  9. PTC DAWG

    Did you ask any of them would they rather not be playing golf for their school?

    Would they be in College without golf?

    • Cosmic Dawg

      The point is they have a choice with what to do with their skills – the govt and NFL / NBA have created an artificial anvironment where they cannot take their skills to market, and they can’t take their non-athletic skills to market, say, waiting tables, either.

      It’s basically a govt-enforced guild system

      • PTC DAWG

        The NFL and the NBA have set uo those rules. Nothing to do with Govt.

        • Normaltown Mike

          Yes and no on NFL. A federal judge ruled with the NFL and against Maurice Clarett when he challenged eligibility age requirement (in a manifestly wrong decision).

  10. Cosmic Dawg

    “They can turn pro anytime they want.”

    Or, presumably, get a job at a parts store to supplement their income.

    This whole idiotic ball of confusion stops right there. Don’t rig the system then bitch about people wanting the same market opportunities as the rest of us – and that other STUDENTS also enjoy.

  11. Mark

    I guess doctors and ditch diggers should make the same amount of money. After all, they are both giving the same effort. (Looking for a rolls eyes emoticon.)

    • It is interesting to me that in a fanbase full of what one would likely describe as free-market capitalists (myself included), a lot of us are decidedly socialist on this issue.

      Not really trying to incite a political discussion, but the dichotomy between our personal convictions regarding free market capitalism and our emotional attachment to the romanticism of amateur collegiate athletics is interesting.

      • Dog in Fla

        What Would David Mamet Do?

        Mamet: No. What do you mean? Have I talked to him about this [Pause]
        Free Market Capitalist: Yes. I mean are you actually talking about this, or are we just…
        Mamet: No, we’re just…
        Free Market Capitalist: We’re just “talking” about it.
        Mamet: We’re just speaking about it. [Pause] As an idea.
        Free Market Capitalist: As an idea.
        Mamet: Yes.
        Free Market Capitalist: We’re not actually talking about it.
        Mamet: No.
        Free Market Capitalist:Talking about it as a…
        Mamet: No.
        Free Market Capitalist: If they were “employees”?
        Mamet: If they were “employees?” No.
        Free Market Capitalist: As “student-athletes” with a set of steak knives?
        Mamet: Maybe. But they’ve got to earn it.

  12. 92dawg

    The can of worms has been opened, and it is probably overdue. What the end results should be is debatable, but I don’t think college athletes’ rights in the modern era fit nicely into any existing model. There is no precedent that is on point, so to speak. The NLRB decision aside, college athletes do not fit our historical view of an “employee.” That is not to say that they should not have some rights that are similar to those of an employee. In light of their investment of time and labor, and the revenues that are generated for schools as a direct result of their labor, there is a legitimate argument that football and basketball players should receive some benefit from those revenues beyond their scholarship IF the concepts of free market and capitalism apply (athletes in sports that do not generate significant revenues, on the other hand, would not have such a claim based on concepts of free market and capitalism).

    The first question is whether concepts of free market and capitalism should apply to the schools (e.g. freedom to negotiate lucrative T.V. contracts, sell tickets and seat licences, apparel and logo licences, etc.) but not apply in the same way to the football and basketball players upon whose shoulders those dollars are made. I think the counter-argument to “pay for play” (whether that is an additional stipend, revenue sharing, health benefits or some other form of compensation) is that they chose to enter into a restricted market (let’s use football as the example) in which the only form of compensation initially is a scholarship, current medical care and whatever other benefit comes with playing college football for State U., with the potential payoff of making the big money in the NFL. That scholarship has a monetary value and is compensation – it just may not be the value and compensation they desire – and they signed up for it. But compare it to baseball for a moment. A lot of the players in the minor leagues have compensation packages that are of lesser value than a UGA football player once a fair market value is placed on the scholly and other benefits provided, but they are willing to accept that low level of compensation now in the hopes of making a big pay day in the Majors. In that sense, college football players are being compensated now, it is just not the level or structure of compensation many of them desire. But by participating in this system, they are also given an opportunity that most of their fellow college athletes in non-revenue generating sports are not — a platform for attracting a lucrative career in their chosen sport after their college career is over. So is that enough in light of the huge revenues generated by a football program such as UGA’s? Well, if there was a wildly successful minor league baseball club that made a substantial profit, and yet they chose to negotiate compensation packages with their players that are on par with all of the other teams, I don’t see how anyone could require them to do different.

    Now it is an entirely different question as to whether or not college football and basketball players (or any college athletes) are being treated fairly as far as health coverage after college, true cost of attendance, stipends, etc. And I think (perhaps incorrectly) that was supposed to be the mission of the NCAA – a voluntary organization that is charged with assisting participating schools to look out for the welfare of athletes at all member institutions and to ensure a level playing field as much as possible. The NCAA has failed miserably in this regard and should be blown up and replaced if the desired concept is still what the schools or the public want. And if the NCAA (or its replacement) is supposed to be concerned purely with the athletes’ welfare, then all athletes, regardless of sport, should receive the same level of benefits (I’m not getting down into half schollys versus full schollys and all of that – you get the drift). Because such “rights” are not based on concepts of free market and capitalism. They are based on a desire to do right by the athletes – to sufficiently provide for them while they are within this system.

    If the concepts of free market and capitalism are to be applied to the athletes, the question is not whether a lacrosse player, a gymnast and a football player all put in the same amount of labor for their chosen sport. The question is whether the revenues generated from those labors are the same, which they obviously are not. A school does not charge the same ticket price for a soccer game as they do for a football game – demand dictates the price and profitability. A school does not participate in TV deals for gymnastics on par with a TV deal for football – it is driven by demand. If you are going to apply concepts of free market and capitalism and allow some athletes to share in the revenues generated by their labors, then it is little different from any other market. A law firm that is able to attract work that is billed at higher rates than the small town general practitioner pays its associates more than that small town general practitioner earns regardless of whether the big firm associates and the small town guy work the same number of hours per week.

    The rules are changing so much right now that there really are no rules to be applied going forward. They have to be crafted and written now. The NCAA’s “we’ll do something when and if we are forced to do something” is obviously a recipe for failure and irrelevance. Someone is going to make the new rules eventually, and if the NCAA won’t get out in front on these issues soon then they will not be a meaningful part of the solution. If the NCAA proceeds on the same path, I’m afraid it is inevitable that Congress will decide it is up to them to declare the new rules – and that always seems to work out so well for everyone. Lord help us.

    • C.S.

      The NLRB decision aside, college athletes do not fit our historical view of an “employee.”

      In what way? I think they absolutely do. I think the Senator made a good point in one of the posts about this subject that when you simply state the facts — what they are required to do in exchange for the compensation they receive — there is just no other way of looking at them. The only way you can claim that it’s not “our” view of an employee is through an elaborate tap-dance while throwing around romantic concepts that were created for the sole purpose of denying people the rewards of their labors.

      • 92dawg

        I agree and disagree, but I should have put it differently. Five or ten years ago, how many of us viewed college football players as employees of their schools? I did not. Now we have been asked (forced) to look at them differently, with a different perspective, and sure enough they exhibit some characteristics of a traditional “employee.” But then again, they don’t. Let’s take the “student athlete” who cares nothing about being a student and only wants to make the pros. What “employee” in a free-market capitalist system bargains for compensation he does not want (free education), even loathes (going to classes and studying), in exchange for his labors? Or is he simply there as an opportunist, believing that he will have an opportunity to make millions in 3 or 4 years if he just busts his tail on the football field, follows the professional training being provided to him on the football field, and pretends just well enough to be a student in order to remain eligible. To me, that does not fit within the construct of an “employee”.

        By the same token, take the football player who busts it on the football player so he can get a good education on fully scholarship, and he has no aspirations of a pro football career. The football is his means to an end, with the end being a college degree and a good career having nothing to do with football. I view him more as a student, who is doing an extracurricular activity (though a very demanding one) to preserve his free education. He does not fit as an “employee” to me either.

        And if it doesn’t walk like a duck or talk like a duck, it probably isn’t a duck.

        I think my point is (though I’m not entirely sure myself) this scenario is not exactly like any previous scenario we’ve dealt with – it is not a cookie cutter problem with a cookie cutter answer. You can’t simply say “he’s an employee so all of the rules governing employees shall be applied and resolve the matter.” But when you go about deciding what rules will apply, you’d better start with choosing the concepts that will apply to all – the institutions involved, the revenue producing athletes, and the non-revenue producing athletes. Is it to be based on concepts of free-market capitalism or simply the best interests of the athletes and amateur competition? The governing concept matters, a lot, in determining all of the other answers.

        • C.S.

          I still don’t find this line of thought convincing, for a variety of reasons. And it starts with your first point. Whether or not anyone “viewed college football players as employees of their schools” five or ten years ago is ultimately irrelevant. A more relevant formulation would be “Five or ten years ago, how many of us would have viewed college football players as employees of their schools if a group of them had raised these same issues with the NLRB? I certainly would have, and I think a lot of other people would have as well, because not a lot has changed in the past 10 years in how football players are treated by their schools.

          I also think that you are operating under some implicit assumptions that are not relevant to the inquiry or are really – I am sorry – extremely naïve. You ask, for instance: “What “employee” in a free-market capitalist system bargains for compensation he does not want (free education), even loathes (going to classes and studying), in exchange for his labors?” First, the ‘free education’ here is not “bargained for.” It is a take-it-or-leave it offer. Second, in this case, one of the players’ main arguments was that they wanted to be students. They wanted the free education, but they were prevented from getting it by virtue of their football commitments. Third . . . really? Do you really think that there are not millions of people in this “free-market capitalist system” doing jobs they hate in exchange for compensation that they did not bargain for because it was take-it-or-leave-it and they had to eat? Playing football is a very specific skill, and the people who play it have only one route available to them if they want to capitalize on that skill: go to an American college and play for that college, and then get drafted. They have no other options. It is not, at any level, a “free-market capitalist system.”

          You go on to question whether your hypothetical proto-pro may simply be an “opportunist,” which does not, to you “fit within the construct of an ‘employee’.” Here, the game is given away by the use of the moral term “opportunist.” I know of no requirement that an employee, to qualify as an employee, must lack ambition. Is an assistant cameraman on a film not an employee if she is just doing the job so she can be the cinematographer on her next film? Is an analyst at Goldman not an employee if he’s really just there to get the experience and cash to start his own company? Opportunism is simply irrelevant to the question of whether or not someone is an employee.

          You then take the example of the full-scholarship kid who is not pro-bound, for whom “football is his means to an end, with the end being a college degree and a good career having nothing to do with football,” whom you view “more as a student, who is doing an extracurricular activity (though a very demanding one) to preserve his free education.” This, too, is an irrelevant consideration, as is obvious as soon as you switch who the employer is. Say I’m a really good golfer, and I spent some time on the tour, but what with injuries and all I want to go back to school. Because I spent some time on the tour, I’m able to get hired as a pro by a country club in Chicago, and with the money they pay me I’m able to afford to go to Northwestern. I don’t want to be a club pro forever — it’s just a means to an end. Are you really saying that I should not be considered an employee of the club? Because that’s what your argument sounds like. Hell, you don’t even have to switch the employer. When I was in college, some of my fellow students had jobs. In fact, some of them were employed by the University itself, in the admissions department. But everyone recognized they were employees even though none of them wanted to be admissions officers. I fail to see how that is not exactly the same thing.

          There just isn’t any construction of the concept “employee” that excludes those on football scholarship, but includes the country club pro, the coal miner, the fast food worker, and the television actor. It walks like a duck and it talks like a duck. It is exactly like previous scenarios and it is a cookie cutter problem with a cookie cutter solution that has been there since the passage of the NLRA in the 1930s. Artificially limiting our analytical choices to the “concepts of free-market capitalism or simply the best interests of the athletes and amateur competition” doesn’t help, either, because this is a legal question. It may have economic ramifications, and the solutions proposed may be based on those principles, but it is still a legal question at the outset. Besides, the genesis of the problem lies in the fact that “the best interests of the athletes” is entirely different from the best interests of “amateur competition.”

          But at the very least, I think we can all agree that the “concepts of free-market capitalism” are not in play at all, because the athletes don’t have the opportunity to make anything approaching their market value.

          • AthensHomerDawg

            One of the few times my youngest has pointed me to a GTP thread. Hope you guys remain amicable and continue the exchange. Great read.

  13. The logic behind these non-revenue sports arguments is so weird to me. If people want to argue that we’re supposed to be rewarding effort, why aren’t people putting heat on the athletic departments to level spending across all sports? I mean, using that rationale, isn’t it unfair that schools spend more on a football player than another athlete who works just as hard?

    And if people want to argue that the non-rev sports are so great because of the opportunities that they provide for students, why aren’t they pressuring the schools now to shift resources and add more sports?

    • The logic behind these non-revenue sports arguments is so weird to me. If people want to argue that we’re supposed to be rewarding effort, why aren’t people putting heat on the athletic departments to level spending across all sports?

      There’s a reason Nick Saban gets paid a lot more than Sarah Patterson (the gymnastics coach at Alabama who some would argue is just as successful, if not more successful, than Saban in her sport) and it’s not because he works any harder than her. The NCAA and the member institutions can keep ignoring that fact at their own peril if they wish.

  14. Dawgoholic

    I played golf in college too. 4-5 hours a day seems light during the season. Walking 18 holes is 3.5-4 hours. Hitting range balls can be a good hour. Short game work can be another hour or two. Working out is another hour 3-4 days a week. The school lost money on me playing and I did not deserve any compensation. I’m glad to have gotten my school paid for. The athletes that bring millions into a school – they are a different story.

    While unrelated, unlike football and basketball players, I had no barriers to entry if I wanted to try to play the tour at 17 or 18 either. In fact, the only athletes somewhat “forced” into the college system are football and basketball players. Everyone else can turn pro whenever they want and play at the highest level.

    If your activity generates revenue, you can get paid. If it doesn’t, you don’t. The more difficult question is how do you differentiate between the 3rd string safety that doesn’t play and the all-american tailback. Not that you can’t find a way to answer that question.

  15. The more difficult question is how do you differentiate between the 3rd string safety that doesn’t play and the all-american tailback.

    This point keeps getting brought up by folks on the “scholarship is enough” side as a warning of the locker room dissent that might happen. However, I don’t see how this issue is any different than when a football player from a wealthy family is in the same locker room with guys that are dirt poor. It seems like we’ve gotten along just well with that, not sure how this is any different. You don’t hear about guys making minimum league salaries getting all bent out of shape because the all-NFL QB is making $20M/year across the locker room, either.

    • Dawgaholic

      Audit, there are many ways to do it:
      (1) Jersey sales
      (2) everybody gets the same
      (3) negotiated when they come in as freshmen
      (4) other brilliant idea

      One rule you would need is that transfers could only get the minimum.

      It can be done but it’s not as easy as in the pros as they can’t hold out and it’s more difficult to predict 17 and 18 year olds who often have played very little real football against competition near their level.