Monday, December 10, 2012

Pay for Play

Each December, I finish off the year reading three of my favorite books: The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Travel Writing, and The Best American Magazine Writing. These anthologies are chockfull of powerful stories written in prose of the highest order.

I just finished reading The Best American Sports Writing, and one story in particular has me thinking,  "The Shame of College Sports" by Taylor Branch. The article was first published in The Atlantic, and while it's a long piece, I highly recommend it.

There is huge money in college sports, particularly men's football and basketball. Professional basketball and football players have powerful unions that guarantee money and healthcare for their members. College athletes do not have that luxury. Many American universities make obscene amounts of money on football and basketball. Branch makes the case that these universities should be paying their athletes.

This is something I've gone back and forth on for a while now, but after reading Branch's article, I would say that I am now firmly of the belief that universities need to compensate their athletes beyond the cost of a scholarship. Lots of people cling to the idea that a free education is more than adequate compensation for playing a game, and twenty years ago maybe it was, but the times have changed. The money involved in big-time college sports is staggering, and the kids who make the money should be getting a bigger piece.

I love college football and basketball. My alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, makes a ton of money on football and basketball. It's time my fellow Badgers get in on some of the money they bring to our school. The situation is the same at many campuses across the country. Every student benefits from the money generated by football and basketball, and I think it's time alums everywhere start demanding their universities take better care of the kids they cheer for on the fields and courts.

9 comments:

  1. Living in a college town and seeing what is going on, we totally agree with you. Great post. Linking to Twitter.

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  2. Whoah whoah whoah. Tim, you start saying these kinds of things and people will label you a "socialist" like they do Barack Obama. Bill O'Reilly and Ann Coutler would assail you and say, "HOW DARE YOU LAZY TIM! WHAT ARE YOU? A TEACHER? WHO NEEDS THAT?! THE UNIVERSITIES ARE JOB CREATORS! THEY ARE TAKING THAT MONEY AND GIVING THESE KIDS A JOB TO DO!"

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    1. They can compare me to PBO any time. I do think the tide is turning on this issue. More and more fans are open to the idea of paying these kids, and the more people see how much money is involved and where it goes, and doesn't, it will be hard to argue against some kind of payment for athletes.

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  3. I couldn't agree more. An injury ended that part of my life.
    Thank you for recommending these books.

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    1. They really are great books. As far as injuries go, universities are doing a terrible job when it comes to long-term healthcare for athletes. That was one of the things in Branch's article that resonated the most with me, stories of young men seriously injured, basically abandoned by their school.

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  4. I agree with you 100%. I love college football and basketball but have started to become soured on them because of the fact that the kids are completely left out of the money. Especially with football when the risk of injury is so much greater. The amount of money being tossed around is simply obscene and only going to get more so with the conference realignments.

    I'm interested in all of these books, hadn't heard of them before but I'm definitely going to check them out.

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  5. It's loooong past time to pay them for playing. I'm surprised this hasn't happened yet.

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  6. I hope you-all have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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