Daily Archives: October 3, 2017

Talk about compensation, a brief history

It’s been around almost as long as college athletics have, which isn’t surprising when you think about it.

The idea of paying college athletes is really old. In 1905, Harper’s Magazine published an editorial (subsequently reprinted in newspapers nationwide) addressing the “Pay of College Athletes.” Harper’s saw the issue as one of visible inequity.  The popularity — and profitability — of college athletics made the problem of “how to make athletes work for nothing” — or to put it another way, “how to keep the athletes from drawing salaries” — increasingly difficult for university administrators to manage. Harper’s concluded that unless a more transparent and fair compensation system arose, college athletes would continue to be paid “surreptitious wages.”

In 1915, the University of Chicago Daily Maroon upended the college football community by pushing the matter further. Given that the editor of the college newspaper and the tuba player in the marching band received compensation from the university, the Maroon argued, why not the college athletes? “They work hard for the university organization known as the football team, which is a money making enterprise, the receipts from football being something like $20,000 [roughly $478,000 today] more than expenditures for the sport. Why not give the players a share of the profits accruing from their hard and faithful labors?”

The University of Chicago was only one year removed from a national championship in football; its voice on the subject mattered.

In 1929, Major W.H. McKellar of the University of the South (Sewanee) proposed that his school’s conference — the Southern Conference — embrace open, above-board payments to college athletes. Actually, the Major preferred universities doing away with charging admission to college football games. But recognizing that this was crazy talk, McKellar argued that “his proposal to openly pay college athletes in the Southern conference” was the only reasonable way forward.

Even the nation’s most beloved humorist at the time — Will Rogers — provided flyby support for the pay-for-play model. He was the John Oliver of his day, just pithier. “There is only one fair way to ever arrange amateur athletics in any line in the country,” Rogers declared, “and that’s let the athletes work on commission of what they draw at the gate then make them pay their own schooling expenses.”

Eh, better we send people to jail for compensating student-athletes than, you know, compensating student-athletes.



Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

“Who’s going to start at quarterback this week, Fromm or Eason?”

Terry Godwin has the correct answer.

“Either way the coaches go, I know we’re going to win,” Godwin said confidently. “Having two guys back there that can play just gives us a better chance.”


Filed under Georgia Football

Envy and jealousy, “it’s time to relearn Georgia” edition

This is a thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish.  In particular,

Georgia is a football program from Athens, Ga., the best college town in the Southeastern Conference. It wins more than it loses, sometimes even thrice as much in a given year. It plays its home games between two long rows of privet Ligustrum, or, for easier pronunciation, “hedges,” and not “shrubs.” Its mascot, Uga, is a pure English white bulldog, and wait, which Uga number are they on these days? They’re on Uga X, the tenth Uga, named “Que,” which seems more apt for a French bulldog.

Because this is one of the world’s weirdest nations (a fact which extends well beyond Georgia), Uga gets a doghouse on the field. Because this is one of the world’s weirdest nations (which extends well beyond Georgia), that doghouse is air-conditioned. Because this is one of the world’s weirdest nations (a fact which extends well beyond Georgia), Uga is awarded a varsity letter upon a plaque, just like a player, and while nobody knows how much this matters to Uga, everybody knows that if you set the plaque on a floor and placed a treat atop it, he would lick it.



Filed under Envy and Jealousy

Musical palate cleanser, won’t back down edition

It’s bad enough to watch my rock icons from the sixties and seventies fall by the wayside, but this?

Tom Petty, a songwriter who melded California rock with a deep, stubborn Southern heritage, died on Monday after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 66 and had lived in Los Angeles.

Tony Dimitriades, Mr. Petty’s longtime manager, confirmed the death.

Recording with the Heartbreakers, the band he formed in the mid-1970s, and on his own, Mr. Petty wrote pithy, hardheaded songs that gave a contemporary clarity to 1960s roots. His voice was grainy and unpretty, with a Florida drawl that he proudly displayed.


Mr. Petty’s songwriting was shaped by the music he heard growing up: the ringing folk-rock guitars of the Byrds, the crunch of the Rolling Stones, the caustic insights of Bob Dylan, the melodic turns of the Beatles, the steadfast backbeat of Southern soul and the twang of country-rock…

But across styles, Mr. Petty kept his songwriting tight-lipped, succinct and evocative: “She was an American girl, raised on promises,” he sang on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 1976 debut album. “She couldn’t help thinkin’ / That there was a little more to life somewhere else.”

Those two paragraphs really nail it for me.  “American Girl” is what drew me to Petty.  I heard the song when Roger McGuinn covered it almost at the same moment Petty’s first album was released.  That opening line was perfect and the Byrds-y Rickenbacker guitar work was icing on the cake.

The man had one hell of a career.  I’m not going to sit here and try to pick a favorite song — go ahead and share that in the comments — although I did spend my time yesterday after hearing the news listening and re-listening to his somewhat underrated Wildflowers.  Instead, I’m going to share a song that’s not even on a Petty album.

“King of the Hill” is a song he co-wrote and performed with McGuinn and it’s a complete mesh of their styles.  Gorgeous harmonies, ringing guitars and slightly cynical lyrics make for a great tune.

I’m gonna miss that high, lonesome sound.  Sigh.


Filed under Uncategorized