Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Never Cool, Ain't Awesome - The NCAA

I am an not an athlete.  I don't play football, baseball, basketball, soccer, softball, gymnastics, track & field, nor volleyball.   I don't even like watching these sports (except NASCAR....Rest In Peace #3...). I hate college sports especially.  I hate watching how amateurish their playing is (better than me but not as good as the pros).  I hate how people get so gaga stupid over these sports especially during the month of March.  So much of it doesn't do anything for betterment of man.  Yes, some people may strive to be better - be it personally, physically, or spiritually.  Yes, it's fun to live vicariously through those than can do amazing things.  I just don't think losing my mind ever time "my team" hits the field or court is something worthwhile.

I listened to this documentary piece on Bob Edward's Weekend Saturday where they featured a piece entitled Dropping the Ball: The Shady Side of Big-Time College Sports regarding the corruption of the NCAA - the collegiate body that governs most University sports.  I just watched Schooled: The Price of College Sports on Netflix that was a fantastic supplement to that radio program.  It sickened me to hear how students are being screwed by a system that was rigged to make it virtually impossible for them to achieve the compensation they originally were promised - a full ride to work towards an education.  Here are the most egregiously troublesome policies as a whole collegiate sports programs across the country employ:

  •  It's no secret these students don't get paid.  The guise however is that they do this keep the players "amatuers" all the while everyone around them is getting paid professional salaries by businesses, donors, and media outlets.  The people playing do not get a cut of any of the monies being thrown around.  There's an anecdote in the documentary where a student had to call his coach and beg him for some food otherwise he would "have to do something stupid" just to eat.  The coach bought him and his players 40 tacos; even that "act of kindness" is technically illegal under NCAA regulations.  It's considered a "gift" and thus could "sway" a player to play for the "wrong reasons".

  • Students are effectively indentured servants.  They supply labor to a University, receive no monetary compensation, and receive room & board all the while they are promised the hard work they put in will culminate in an education.  More on that in the next one.

  • Students are working anywhere from 40-60 hours a week on their sports training.  A majority of them are pretty much absent the month of March due to their sports obligations.  How can they be expected to carry a full work load of courses to work towards a degree all the while expected to be productive on the field.  I guess is they don't sleep, they can handle 12-15 hours of courses, tests, studying, and homework on top of a regular work week. 

  • Special BS courses are made for student athletes that can't handle a regular workload in order to keep them eligible for play.  These "paper courses" don't meet regularly for the term, don't have tests, and merely require a paper to be turned in at the end of the course which gets graded A or B a majority of the time.  What kind of an education is this?

  • There is a minority of students that are admitted to the college woefully under-qualified to be participating in collegiate studies.  Both pieces speak on having to tutor athletes that can't read, write, do simple math, or have the ability to pay attention for long periods of time.  All that is expected of them is to perform at their sport and bring in the money. I found this disheartening as there are probably students more qualified academically to enter college being denied entry to make room for these athletes who at the end of their run will amount to very little out in the real world.
  • Students are effectively signed to one year contracts where the sports department has final say so as to whether or not that student can return the next season.  If you don't produce, conduct yourself on the field, there's no way you can achieve off the field.
The good news is that NCAA is being challenged to FINALLY allow some concessions in the form compensation for the players.  The most awesome piece of news I heard recently is how students at Northwestern University have taken the first step to unionizing the players to collectively bargain with the NCAA & University.  At the moment, they're not out to "get paid" but rather protect themselves from the incredible demands that are placed upon them to just to keep themselves eligible for their scholarships.  Everyone is against these players from coaches to deans to fans.  The sport and money is more important to them than the welfare of the plays.  What a shame.

Watch the documentary online and let me know what you think about this.