Regardless of whether you think paying college athletes is a good idea or a bad one, the argument you need to dismiss in its entirety is that paying players would be bad for competitive balance. ‘Cause there ain’t any now. (h/t MGoBlog)
Yeah, there’s a lot of math in that piece, but just skip to the conclusion and think about it for a minute.
But how would things look under a pay-for-play model? Would the imbalance actually get worse?
Maybe not. If anything, the economics of price competition argue that as you let schools use money directly as a tool in attracting talent, you may empower mid-level schools to splurge on a would-be starter who might otherwise accept an offer at a top-tier school and end up riding the bench. When stars and benchwarmers all get the same compensation package, there’s no way for a smaller school to show they really want a player much more than the big school, which is free to stockpile talent. Both schools can claim they want the player, both can send 700 letters in one day, etc. The best way to show you mean business and that the other school is just engaging in what economists call “cheap talk” is price competition.
So when you buy into the myth that price-fixing helps balance college football, you’re actually helping prevent that balance from emerging. Stop defending price fixing and you’ll let Bowling Green show that four-star nose tackle how much more valuable he is to the Falcons than he is to Alabama’s bench.
I keep saying it – what the people in charge in the power conferences fear the most isn’t spending money. They’re doing that now anyway. It’s losing the level of control they have over student-athletes.