Abuse of college athletes almost at an end, thank you NCAA

By April 29, 2020

I have long since remonstrated against the US colleges’ ‘abuse’ of athletes.

I am, of course, not talking about the rigours athletes go through trying to keep their GPAs while being asked to run at track meets week in, week out and burning out before big events like World Championships and Olympic Games. That is for another discussion.

I am talking about the massive amounts of money colleges earn on the names of their sports stars without ever having to shell out any money to these athletes who must make do with whatever their parents can scrape together or side jobs will allow. All this while being asked to train for long hours, in addition to making heads or tails of their classes.

It has long been the practice of the United States Collegiate governing body, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), to put an athlete in the class of professional if he were to earn from his sporting endeavours and therefore be barred from participating in college sport.

On the face of it, I get it. Doing that should limit corruption from private entities, agents and the like, from ‘buying athletes’ and keep the college experience clean.

However, the truth is, the laws around professional athletes versus amateur athletes have meant that for some, they are forced to choose sport over education, like the high-school basketball star who goes straight to the NBA, or the first-year linebacker who chooses to forego the rest of his university education for the NFL.

That ‘some’ who I speak of are the lucky ones. Because the truth is, there are many others who get injured along the way or simply do not make the transition after college and they will never earn a dollar from the sport they have given quite a bit to.

College sport in the US is big business. The coaches earn multiples of millions per year, the schools earn millions from merchandising and ticket sales. But the student-athletes who they earn on the backs of, make nothing. A wholly exploitative situation if you ask me.

On the quiet, when a poor student from a rural community in the United States, or even the Caribbean, is wanted by a number of schools, boosters will offer ‘gifts’ to the parents to make their college the choice.

Can you imagine, a poor mother living in a one-room dwelling getting an upgraded house, a car, or even cash to feed the rest of her family? I would have loved to have been able to do that (talent aside) for my parents when a college came calling.

But in order to do that, you have to keep quiet about it. As if it weren’t your talent that was being courted. If it were ever found out, you would lose it all and you might even find yourself in legal troubles.

That hasn’t changed, but the NCAA’s decision to allow athletes to earn from the use of their image and likeness is a step in the right direction.

Now, maybe some of the big bucks the colleges and coaches and everybody else involved in collegiate sport seems to make, can go back to the people who actually earn it.

The Board of Governors of the NCAA met on the issue this week and agreed that athletes should be allowed to receive compensation for third-party endorsements “both related and separate from athletics.”

In addition, athletes can receive payment for other opportunities that come with stardom. “Social media, businesses they have started and personal appearances” make the list of areas in which athletes are now ‘allowed’ to earn while maintaining their amateur status.

Still, payment will not come from universities for this stardom and I believe that is where the rule-change falls short.

The schools make a killing off their athletes and should give back. Again, I get it, the idea is to make for a level playing field where wealthy schools don’t end up with all the great athletes.

But doesn’t that happen anyway?

Paul-Andre Walker

Paul-Andre is the Managing Editor at SportsMax.tv. He comes to the role with almost 20 years of experience as journalist. That experience includes all facets of media. He began as a sports Journalist in 2001, quickly moving into radio, where he was an editor before becoming a news editor and then an entertainment editor with one of the biggest media houses in the Caribbean.

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