(This part 1 of a multi part series of rants on the NCAA)
I love college sports.
I love everything that college sports represents. The fact that you only have a limited amount of time to accomplish your goals. The window of opportunity is only 4 (maybe 5) years. You cannot leave for free agency after those 4 years and sign with another school in hopes that you win a title. The name on the front of the jersey is more important than the name on the back (in most cases there are no names on the back.).
I also love the fact a small school (Gonzaga, Appalachian State, College of Charleston, etc.) can go into any stadium/arena in the country and have a shot at upsetting a "big name" university. The fact that a bunch of 19-22 year olds can make a bunch of 30-40 year olds laugh, cry, cheer and curse over a game that is pure and good.
No agents (per say) here, no contract negotiations (aside from the recruiting before you get to college), no holdouts or lockouts, you don't cancel the season because of a players strike. It is as pure as you allow it to be.
Now that I have given you some of the many reasons that I am a fan of college athletics as a whole, here is my problem. The NCAA.
Yes, the NCAA is my problem with college sports. I know what you are thinking, "is he crazy, without the NCAA college athletics wouldn't be what it is today. The NCAA has shaped college sports into what it is today." That is my problem with the NCAA. It has shaped college sports into what it is today. Today college sports is a multi-billion dollar buisness. The television contracts alone are enough to make you puke. That is the thing though, the NCAA is a billion dollar buisness that uses slave labor. The athletes themselves (aside from their scholarships and their opportunity to gain an education from their respective university) are getting nothing for the money that they are bringing in for their schools and for the NCAA.
I know, "those kids should be thankful that they get to go to school for free. That should be enough for now. They can get paid after they graduate with their degree, they aren't going to play sports forever." Think about that for a second.
Okay times up. It sounds ridiculous right? Of course it does, you wouldn't tell a Rhodes Scholar that they couldn't get a job would you? No, you wouldn't. I can hear the NCAA now, "The reason why the student-athlete cannot have a part-time job is that we have no way of knowing whether or not the said athlete is actually working that said job. So in lue of spending needed resources and man power on something to monitor such activities, we just outlaw the act of working if you are a student-athlete." Really? What else are you guys doing then with your time? You aren't working on a Division I college football playoff plan, you aren't working to improve March Madness, you don't want to pay athletes, you don't punish coaches for bailing on universities but athletes have to sit out a year if they transfer. So where are these resources going then?
It goes into their marketing department.
I digress. The NCAA is losing the battle with professionalism every day they refuse to pay their student-athletes. If you are a 19 year old kid from a poor area and you play running back for the University of Texas and you lead them to a 14-0 season capped off with a National Championship that is greatest feeling in the world. The University gets millions of dollars for getting to and winning that Bowl game. The NCAA gets millions of dollars from the sponsors and ad buys during the game. The Conference gets millions from the appearance by your school in the Bowl game. You know what that 19 year old kid gets? If he's lucky some booster will give him a "friendly" handshake after the game.
That is the ugly side of the NCAA. Everyone is making money off the "cash cow" expect for the student-athlete. So either the NCAA has to change it's ways or their product is going to get watered down to the point where the billions of dollars are going to pick up and move on to the pros, just like that 19 year old from the poor area who isn't worried about cementing a legacy at one of the most storied Universities in college football history because the pros are offering the millions that the NCAA refuses to share.
Did I mention I love college sports?