Any time I see an editorial on college athletics mention Adam Smith, I’m gonna toss a nod in its direction. And this is a particularly good point made in response to the Jim Delanys of the world:
O’Bannon’s response to the NCAA may be the most powerful case ever assembled against the association’s propaganda machine. Among other things, it systematically dismantles the NCAA’s argument that the vast majority of its members lose money on sports. In fact, most Division I schools are not caught in an expensive arms race for coaches and athletic facilities. They have simply obscured the profitability of their football and basketball programs with accounting tricks, such as shifting revenue from sports concessions to the food service budget.
The NCAA advances these false claims of poverty so it can argue that its member schools can’t possibly afford to spend more money on sports, much less pay their athletes. O’Bannon’s lawyers put the lie to this, too, invoking foundational truths of economics dating to Adam Smith and David Ricardo: “Redistributing rents does not change true economic costs. It simply takes money from one person or group and shifts it to another.” Translation: Paying athletes wouldn’t result in schools spending additional money on sports. They would just spend less of it on coaches and facilities and more on students.
It’s not so much that I’m at the point where I want to see the schools cut checks to players as I am wanting to hear the O’Bannon defendants admit they’re FOS.