Nothing to worry about

If the NCAA really believes the bullshit it cranks out about amateurism, should it lose the Alston case, would anything really change?

Of course, the NCAA doesn’t really believe its own bullshit.

In other words, every time one of you amateurism romantics argues some version of an affordability problem with regard to free market compensation, you’re undermining the NCAA’s antitrust defense.  Because if paying players really is a disastrous move, no school would be crazy enough to risk its business over that.

I keep saying it, but the most defensible position on the status quo is to simply say “I don’t like players being paid” and stop.  Once you try to offer some sort of economic justification, the argument goes off the wheels.

22 Comments

Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

22 responses to “Nothing to worry about

  1. Derek

    Imagine where’d we get if we subjected the proponents of paying players to the same scrutiny and beyond: “we’ll see” and “they will just have to figure it out?”

    One way to ensure there are no logical fallacies exposed in the pay for play model is to avoid the discussion entirely and to just focus on getting rid of the current model instead.

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    • You seem to think you’re entitled to some sort of guarantee as to how things will go if the amateurism model is voided. Not sure you understand how markets work. The parties will negotiate, based on supply and demand, just like in the real world.

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      • Derek

        Yep. And in the real world of pro sports, the owners and players, overtime, realized quickly that fair, watchable, popular, and profitable sports required some serious controls on those market forces. Arguably without antitrust exemption they’d quickly die.

        Those controls include:

        Drafts where the worst team get the first pick and the easiest schedule
        Unions
        Salary caps
        Restricted rosters

        We have several successful and unsuccessful pro models to look to. None of them come close to mirroring a system where the teams with the most resources get the best players every year. None of those pro systems encourage keeping a player with marginal talent or productivity around for the sake of allowing them to complete their education.

        What all of the successful pro systems have in common is socialism for the owners and the rule of the jungle for the players. That isn’t an improvement in the lives of the average 19 year old scholarship athlete.

        It is potentially a gold mine for some wannabe college level Jerry Jones or Roger Goodell.

        In short, you’re more likely to benefit the people you think you’re going after now and hurting the people you think you’re trying to help.

        All I’m saying is that we should look very closely before we leap. There seems to me to be a great deal of resistance to that sort of analysis around here.

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        • And in the real world of pro sports, the owners and players, overtime, realized quickly that fair, watchable, popular, and profitable sports required some serious controls on those market forces. Arguably without antitrust exemption they’d quickly die.

          Not all pro sports have antitrust exemptions. And “realized quickly” is a euphemism for negotiations. Why should college sports be any different? And why would you expect the NCAA to change its essential business model in the absence of legal action forcing it to abandon it?

          It is potentially a gold mine for some wannabe college level Jerry Jones or Roger Goodell.

          I have no idea what your argument is here. The college model is different from pro sports in one significant way that you ignore: it’s not a monolithic enterprise. The conferences compete with each other as separate economic entities. There is no Goodell analogue to suggest, unless you think one conference will take over all the others.

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          • Derek

            Is there a pro league that has that much money sloshing around that doesn’t have an exemption?

            I think there will be very few programs willing and able to engage in directly paying players, especially if it’s an uncontrolled market. A guy like Phil Knight or T. Boone could turn everything upside down.

            You’ll end up with a low number of teams and then they’ll turn it into a cartel where even the Browns and the Clippers can survive no matter how badly the teams are run.

            My alluding to Jerry Jones and Goodell is for the obvious reason that they benefit the most from that system. Goodell makes 25 million a year right? How many players make that much?
            When was the last NFL team to go belly up? They just don’t. Too many supports in place. That’s by design.

            However, there are hundreds of broke and broken former players around. Starting them off as teenagers in that “state of nature” is not the beneficent move you’d like to think it is.

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            • Is there a pro league that has that much money sloshing around that doesn’t have an exemption?

              I should have phrased that more narrowly — not all pro sports leagues have an antitrust exemption for labor matters. Major league baseball, for example.

              Who said anything about an “uncontrolled market”? All Alston seeks is the removal of the NCAA’s illegal cartel. From there, each conference is free to seek whatever level of compensation best suits it.

              Again, I’m not advocating a final product here, which you continue to suggest I am. I simply think it is wrong for the NCAA to fix the labor market, without the consent of student-athletes. If creating hypothetical scare situations helps you cope with your opposition to that, more power to you.

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  2. Without going too deep into either side, the one thing that’s always bothered me is not owning your own name and image. That just don’t make no sense. as long as stated, they can sell the number 3 Jersey at the bookstore, but number 3 can’t sell his own autograph. I see pros and cons on both sides of the argument, but that one to me just seems way off.

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  3. Rchris

    And no person would be crazy enough to chop down the last tree on Easter Island.

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  4. Dylan Dreyer's Booty

    Well, as a Dawg fan, if the situation changes and the schools become able to negotiate for talent, that reserve fund that McGoofy has might be an edge. Maybe he is prescient? 😉

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    • Compared to the enormous endowments that some schools sit on, UGAA’s reserve fund is a drop in the bucket.

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      • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

        Endowments for football? Sure, Stanford and the Ivy League schools have enormous endowments, but they aren’t using them for football, at least not yet. I’m just talking about us vs. the less healthy accounts of schools that fund football.

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        • Is there some reason they couldn’t, if they wanted to?

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          • Dylan Dreyer's Booty

            Probably not. That’s why I qualified it with ‘at least not yet’, but many endowments are tied to specific things like a chair at the law school or a research position. I don’t think they are likely to fund football, but what do I know?

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  5. Faltering Memory

    If I knew players would get a share of apparel sales, I would be more inclined to buy a UGA t-shirt or sweat shirt rather than a generic.

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  6. Now let me get this straight…if the court decides in favor of Alston, the NCAA would have to allow enhanced player compensation, but the conferences themselves could still disallow it?

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  7. Individual NCAA members might truly believe that “directly compensating athletes for pay would result in decreased fan demand.”

    But, someone out there–some conferences, or some schools–will decide that paying more than other conferences or schools pay is their ticket to winning more and thereby increasing their fan bases, thereby increasing their revenues. Then, other schools will succumb to this pressure and also start paying, more and more, because the more highly recruited players are going where the pay is best.

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    • “Individual NCAA members” aren’t making the legal argument. The NCAA is.

      But, someone out there–some conferences, or some schools–will decide that paying more than other conferences or schools pay is their ticket to winning more and thereby increasing their fan bases, thereby increasing their revenues.

      Again, isn’t that accepting the premise of my post? If so, then aren’t you saying the NCAA should lose Alston?

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  8. Just quoting the original article referenced above, about “individual members.”

    I think if the NCAA loses Alston, what will result is not something most of us college fans–at least, those of us who live in the place where college football is a religion, not a sport–will appreciate. I don’t want UGA to have to start paying its players just because other schools are paying, which is what I think will happen sooner or later.

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  9. Tony Barnfart

    I don’t like paying players.

    Liked by 1 person