Spencer Hall’s cri de coeur about student-athlete compensation got a fair amount of buzz yesterday. I doubt it’s gonna change many hearts and minds – I don’t think it was written with that in mind, honestly – but I don’t see how anyone who thinks the current state of affairs is all good can rebut this part of his argument:
… College students aren’t generally wealthy or in a wealth-building stage of life, sure, but there’s more than a little evidence that student-athletes don’t just tread water for four years, but instead are made significantly poorer by the experience of participating in amateur athletics.
When and if they do receive their degree, it might mean even less in terms of real future dollars than those received by their peers. The networking they might have done with others on campus is restricted by their class schedules and practice; the networking with wealthy alumni that might benefit them in business is explicitly forbidden in many instances, something Princeton’s own Michael Lewis points out in The Blind Side. The athlete receives no dividend or funds kept in trust for their well-above-average financial contributions to the university on graduation.
By rule they are separated from the income they make, and by system they are separated from the university education they were promised. They are neither amateurs nor professionals, and effectively moved as undeclared contraband through the United States tax system.
No man’s land. And that doesn’t even touch on the physical risks they take suiting up for dear old Football U.
Those of you who are still intoxicated with the romance of the myth of amateurism, I’m almost jealous of you. My cynicism makes it a little harder for me to love the sport with each year’s passing.