The death knell of amateurism?

Honestly, in my lifetime, I can’t recall an US President as interested in the framework of college athletics as the current occupant of the White House.  Yeah, I remember Nixon being heavily into football, but not about, say, whether college football should have a playoff.  Or what the future may hold for a sport having a serious problem with concussions.  Or chest bumping with Trooper Taylor

But I digress.

The latest foray into college athletics by the Kenyan Marxist Usurper is in the area of – gasp!amateurism.

Weighing in on the growing debate over amateurism in college sports, President Barack Obama said on Friday that universities bear “more responsibilities than right now they’re showing” toward their athletes and that the NCAA should require schools to guarantee athletic scholarships with no strings attached.

“[T]he students need to be taken better care of because they are generating a lot of revenue here,” Obama told The Huffington Post in a sit-down interview. “An immediate step that the NCAA could take — that some conferences have already taken — is if you offer a scholarship to a kid coming into school, that scholarship sticks, no matter what.”

“It doesn’t matter whether they get cut, it doesn’t matter whether they get hurt,” the president went on. “You are now entering into a bargain and responsible for them.”

Ordinarily, I would expect this to provoke immediate catcalls on the right (it wouldn’t be the first time), except Obama had to go and complicate things by saying this:

He stopped short of saying that it was time to pay collegiate athletes or that they should have the right to unionize — a possibility now under consideration by his appointees to the National Labor Relations Board.

“In terms of compensation, I think the challenge would just then start being, do we really want to just create a situation where there are bidding wars?” Obama asked. “How much does a Anthony Davis get paid as opposed to somebody else? And that I do think would ruin the sense of college sports.”

Mark Emmert just pumped his fist.

Needless to say, I disagree.  Further, I have no idea where the President is going with this thought.

“What does frustrate me is where I see coaches getting paid millions of dollars, athletic directors getting paid millions of dollars, the NCAA making huge amounts of money, and then some kid gets a tattoo or gets a free use of a car and suddenly they’re banished,” Obama said. “That’s not fair.”

Emmert just put his hand back in his pocket.  I’m using mine to scratch my head.

Why does everyone have such a hard time with this?  Is a free market for all that hard a concept to grasp?

48 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

48 responses to “The death knell of amateurism?

  1. JWG

    Senator, you don’t seem worried that a free market for all will dilute or be the ruin of college sports. Perhaps it wouldn’t. But I think that changing to a free market would do more to change the face of the sport than, say, an expanded playoff would, which seems to really scare you. I’m curious why you’re worried about the one and not particularly worried about the other (or have I misread?). I’m not trying to make an argument, I’m genuinely curious.

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    • My feeling is that with regard to changing the face of the sport, that train done left the station a long time ago. The chase for money has led to widespread conference realignment, conferences that also pose as television networks, etc., resulting in massive damage that already been done to scheduling and many of CFB’s traditions.

      College athletics are in the process of morphing from being regionally based with regard to fans into being national. Expanded playoffs are just a symptom of that. And whether the players get paid or not, we’re in the process of losing what we’ve had.

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      • The Count

        Scratching your head? Obama’s comments were very rational and clear. You don’t want bidding wars. That’s bad for competitive balance. You don’t want college football to become MLB where the Yankees just buy every good player. The NFL doesn’t have a free market; the MLB does.

        The solution is to pay all players of the same sport equally. Does this “screw” Anthony Davis because he gets the same amount as some bench warmer for Western Northeast State? Probably. But tough luck for Antony Davis. His consolation prize is the NBA paycheck for him around the corner.

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        • Monday Night Froetteur

          Actually I think Obama just came out in support of the Olympic Model, where schools continue to adhere to the compensation cap but schools no longer prohibit players from receiving $$ from third parties.

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  2. Deutschland Domiciliary Dog

    Must say I agree with Obama on this. First time, though.

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    • doofusdawg

      I have said for several years that it is a good thing President Obama is a sports fan. He clearly likes basketball better than football but I imagine the renewed success of the big ten will help with that. Kenyan marxist usurper… nice bona fides Senator.

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  3. Walt

    “It doesn’t matter whether they get cut, it doesn’t matter whether they get hurt,” the president went on. “You are now entering into a bargain and responsible for them.”

    Sounds a little like slavery

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  4. I haven’t agreed with the President on anything. He seems to be trying to find a middle ground on this issue that many of us have been proposing. Through all of this, he still has to throw out some wealth envy phrases to argue for his point that drive many of us who are libertarian or conservative crazy.

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  5. Cojones

    Yeah, and for the first time, I disagree with the Senator ( 🙂 ). He has yet to reply to how the free market won’t hurt football. The “bidding war” is a valid point to me and I’ve been asking for some bright guy here to form the solution before cheering it on..

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    • Cojones

      BTW, this is the first time I’ve seen the President’s proposal for 8 teams. Hell, I’ve been backing him unknowingly on one issue. Back him fully on all his other issues. The man is one bright son-of-a-gun who delivers on what he has the power to deliver.

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      • Argondawg

        Lawd! I am gonna have to agree a little with the usurper and Cajones in the same day. Surely this is a sign of the apocalypse. No one has yet put forth a comprehensive proposal that I have seen on how to pay these guys. If we are gonna go a true free market then college football shrinks down to about 15 teams and the rest can go pound sand. Even the NFL has a salary cap. Somebody point me to a plan and I am not being sarcastic. Obviously smarter people than me have to have broken this down. Help.

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    • Monday Night Froetteur

      There’s already a bidding war, and the rich schools are already winning it. Instead of spending on facilities and other indirect things, the players would get compensated directly.

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  6. Hogbody Spradlin

    “Is a free market for all that hard a concept to grasp?”
    I know I’m sending this thread South, but for Obama: yes, a free market is that hard a concept to grasp.

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    • In the context of college sports, he’s far from alone in that.

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      • The Count

        Just compare English soccer (free market) to the NFL. Both have passionate fans and a lot of money flowing through it. But the competitive balance between the EPL and NFL over the last few decades are night and day.

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    • If there were ever any such thing as a free market then perhaps it would be comprehensible. It doesn’t and hasn’t ever existed. The so called free market cost the tax payers a trillion dollars when it collapsed in the fall of 2008. The free market is a great theory but the owners of it aren’t exaclty interested in the costs of the free market only the benefits. Hence it does not, has not and will not ever exist.

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      • If you think the market in ’08 was free, you have another thing coming. That was crony capitalism at its worst as the government pumped taxpayer money into the same institutions its regulations forced to make bad decisions that sent them into insolvency.

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      • Cosmic Dawg

        Additionally, real free market guys wanted to just let the banks go into bankruptcy – NOT get bailed out. Don’t blame free markets for a problem created by govt tinkering in the economy and exacerbated by more govt tinkering.

        And parsing words and nit-picking over what is a “free market” and what isn’t a “free market” is baloney. We have enough evidence of the theory in place to have overwhelming evidence that people act according to their interests and respond to incentives, private property rights, sound money, the ability to choose, etc, etc, improves the lives of a nation’s citizens, and typically improves the lives of the poor more than anyone.

        If you think parroting some meme that there’s no real “free market” is a good argument, how would you respond to someone who says “no man is ever truly free” as an argument for slavery? If I can’t really be free, then does it make a difference what kind of system I’m laboring under? The answer, obviously, is still “yes” – some conditions of imperfection are surely preferable to others.

        The hope is to get closer to an ideal, not to claim utopia. The free market only promises to solve a certain finite set of human problems. It cannot love your children for you or paint a picture or write a song, but that’s not its function, is it?

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  7. Nashville West

    As Chief Executive the President was correct in not expressing an opinion on unionization since that issue is currently subject to administrative adjudication by an agency of the executive branch, the NLRB. I’m kind of impressed because he is usually not so circumspect.

    With regard to his unusual interest in college athletics, perhaps it’s one of the few national or international issues on which he is actually qualified to speak with any authority (although the NC State basketball team apparently disagrees).

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  8. W Cobb Dawg

    A publicly owned college’s responsibility is to educate the students, not to operate a sports franchise or any other type of free market enterprise. Rather than bidding wars, it would be much more appropriate for all the generated funds to be returned to the education budget and redirected for appropriate academic uses. But college football and basketball are so thoroughly bastardized that isn’t likely to happen. After that, all you can ask for is some level of fairness in how the proceeds are divvied up. I think Obama came at it from that perspective.

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  9. Mark

    A free market is far more the domain of the right, than the left. Not sure why you would expect the right to offer catcalls on this one.

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  10. Mg4life0331

    16 comments so far and nobody has gotten out of line?

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  11. I am unaware of any major sports league that operates as a free market?

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    • How many major sports leagues prevent their participants from controlling their NLIs?

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      • None. How does that address my question at all?

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        • Would you be happier if I said “free market for labor”?

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          • And which league has that free market? Your are drafted and either agree to work for that team or do not play. Additionally most leagues even have caps on what your first contract would be.

            It is not that everyone is dense and does not understand the free market. It is that one does not exist in sports and one will not exist in college either.

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            • Draft and caps are the result of collective bargaining, entered into by both sides.

              You really want to make the argument there’s no difference in how the labor market is treated in college and in the pros?

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              • No. My point is collective bargaining is not a free market.

                Also that is exactly what they should do in college. The wheel was already invented. Just use the NFL style system with some tweaks (like no draft) and presto: you have a system that compensates the players and protects them. That would keep the teams balanced and get the players there’s.

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                • DawgPhan

                  If to people enter into an agreement and were free to do so, I fail to see how that isnt a free market. They may have created a less free market, but the original free market produced the new market and that new market lives only as long as the free markets believes it should.

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    • The Count

      European soccer largely operates as a free market.

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      • I am not so sure about that they operate as free market. UEFA and the individual football associations in each country all of financial fair play rules. Plus the transfer fees go to the team not the player so it behooves the largest clubs to sign players to academy contracts at young ages and then sell off their charges.

        Also, ask Carlos Tevez if he has completely happy about the “free market” system and transfers? Most players do not move freely but at the behest of the syndicates and agents (sometimes there are organized crime figures from their home country). The players and their families usually owe large amounts of money to the syndicates for earlier life training etc which doesn’t always get paid off even when they move from Ajax to PSG to Liverpool.

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    • Monday Night Froetteur

      EPL

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  12. Spike

    He’s been so good at everything else…

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  13. South FL Dawg

    You’re suprised that a politician talks out of both sides of his mouth?

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  14. JG Shellnutt

    I know I’ve said it before, and I apologize to those who have read my opinion previously, but I think they should allow each player (who is good enough anyway) to sign with exactly one agent anytime along the way. Let the agent pay the player. Each agent will obviously be signing only the guys that have the chops to make it in the pros so the whole team doesn’t have to get paid. The schools are not paying so Auburn, for instance, doesn’t get a COA advantage. The third string long snapper doesn’t get paid, but honestly probably shouldn’t be. They’re still amateurs, but the market decides who gets paid and the “how much” is determined by the agents’ bidding wars for the guys that are the best.

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  15. ASEF

    Grasp? No. Accept? Yes. I don’t see how supply and demand really applies here. Unless you are saying that if Alabama or Phil Knight wants to support a $4 million payroll for a college football team, so be it.

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  16. The President of these United States sat down with the Huffington Post. He did an interview with the Huffington Post. This happened. In real life. I think the occurrence itself says everything.

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    • ASEF

      How is that any different than sitting down with Fox News?

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    • Cojones

      Ariana Huffington was always known to me as a Conservative, but I have never found fault with her news service nor many of the opinions representing both sides of an issue. Of course, I don’t hook up with her for my morning news, it’s just that she has surprised me with her journalism’s fair treatment of political and other news whenever I’ve read articles from her Post..

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  17. Monday Night Frotteur

    I’ve never understood problems with bidding wars. They’re fun! They’re revealing! People shouldn’t be repulsed by them unless they are operating under embarrassingly naive conceptions of what college revenue sports are.

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