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Documentary: Schooled: The Price of College Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

Documentary: Schooled: The Price of College Sports

© Paul Stevens 2015

Smashwords Edition

 

IntroClass Action LawsuitRip OffWhat to Do?

 

Also by this Author

 

 

 

 

Documentary: Schooled: The Price of College Sports

 

Intro

I recently watched this 5 star rated documentary. It tackles the issue of college athletes who are admitted on the strength of their athletic prowess to colleges across the USA. In return basically for a one year renewable contract (subject anyhow to performance on the field) they get a scholarship worth the average annual academic fees of roughly $28000 p.a. Collegiate games are huge business in the US with stadiums of up to 175000 people packing the up market stands and plush corporate booths all financed by the sweat of the athletes themselves, some of whom end up injured or even paralyzed without workman’s compensation. Coaches and assistant coaches and sundry hangers on can earn obscene salaries of up to $5 million a year (yet the athletes from whose shoulders this largesse springs complained of having no money for basic living expenses and even complained of hunger at times). Then the corporates weigh in as well, paying coaches handy retainers like $100 000 p.a. so their players will wear Nike shoes, which is a snip if you look at the marketing impact this has. The documentary is strong on athlete’s rights and makes a powerful case that they should be compensated for their efforts as athletes are in other sports and have workman’s compensation for injuries. Even the Olympic Games aren’t insisting on the “amateur” code anymore. All the colleges are controlled by a mafia like organization called the National Collegiate Athletic Association which has a 2 inch book of cooked up rules to control the athletes at every turn. Unless they follow this code they won’t be eligible for selection to the lucrative professional leagues. It’s hard not to be sympathetic to the theme of the documentary which basically makes out the NCAA to be the super ruthless bad guys bent on exploiting the players at every turn (which is true) but after watching I realized that actually the makers of the documentary had actually completely missed the point.

And what is the point? Well, the real culprits are the colleges themselves who have basically created a fraudulent new class of student called a “student/athlete”. The insight from this documentary is that the majority of these “students” would not be able to pass the normal entrance examinations of these colleges. The documentary in fact mentions that some of the star athletes can barely read or write, and yet here they are studying for an engineering degree (which one “student” thought was working with model trains, I kid you not). .Having fraudulently granted these admissions they then perpetuate the fraud by making them attend fake classes, and then issue fake pass credits. If the “student” can manage to survive a few years without being injured or having his contract terminated, he is then issued a fake degree and released on the unsuspecting world. It’s a plain and simple fraud not practiced anywhere else in the world and what it’s really about is to enable the colleges to turn a blind eye whilst at the same time handsomely filling up their coffers with the ensuing loot. The NCAA with their equally ludicrous rulebook puts a stamp of approval on it effectively aiding and abetting the whole process which after all remains their cash cow. Though for how long this exploitive set up will continue is entirely debatable.

 

Class Action Law Suit

A recent class action lawsuit against the NCAA by star basketball player O’Bannon gave some relief to athletes (edited from Wikipedia):

 

“In July 2009, Ed O’Bannon, a former basketball player who was a starter on the UCLA’s 1995 national championship team, and the NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player of that year, filed a lawsuit against the NCAA and the Collegiate Licensing Company, on behalf of the NCAA’s Division I football and men’s basketball players, alleging violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act and of actions that deprived him of his right of publicity. The suit argued that upon graduation, a former student athlete should become entitled to financial compensation for NCAA’s commercial uses of his or her image. The NCAA maintained that paying its athletes would be a violation of its concept of amateurism in sports. At stake were “billions of dollars in television revenues and licensing fees. He agreed to be the lead plaintiff after seeing his likeness from the 1995 championship team used in a video game without his permission. The game featured a UCLA player who played O’Bannon’s power forward position, while also matching his height, weight, bald head, skin tone, No. 31 jersey, and left-handed shot. In January 2011, Oscar Robertson joined O’Bannon in the class action suit. Bill Russell was also among the 20 former college athletes who are plaintiffs.

The trial against the NCAA lasted from June 9 to June 27, 2014. Final written closing statements were submitted on July 10.

On August 8, 2014, Wilken ruled that the NCAA’s long-held practice of barring payments to athletes violated antitrust laws. She ordered that schools should be allowed to offer full cost-of-attendance scholarships to athletes, covering cost-of-living expenses that were not currently part of NCAA scholarships. Wilken also ruled that college be permitted to place as much as $5,000 into a trust for each athlete per year of eligibility.

The NCAA subsequently appealed the ruling, arguing that Wilken did not properly consider NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma. In that case, the NCAA was denied control of college football television rights, but the court also stated: “To preserve the character and quality of the ‘product,’ athletes must not be paid.”

Electronic Arts and The Collegiate Licensing Company, both original co-defendants with the NCAA, departed from the case and finalized a $40 million settlement that could net as much as $4,000 to as many as 100,000 current and former athletes who had appeared in EA Sports basketball and football video games since 2003.”

 

Rip Off

Even with these sweeteners the athletes are being totally ripped off when their efforts are creating a billion dollar industry (college football’s 20 most valuable teams have an average value of $85 million and generated a combined $1.3 billion in revenue – Forbes) yet in return all they are getting is room and board and $5000 p.a. plus a fake “education”.

Note the judge’s comment in the previous case of NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma: “To preserve the character and quality of the ‘product,’ athletes must not be paid.” But judge, what if the product is a fake?

 

What To Do

So what to do? There’s no reason to end the spectacular college games which are fun for alumni, students and the public alike. But come on dudes! Let’s face up and be honest about it! Admission requirements are first and foremost admission requirements, and they can’t be tampered with, even for the greatest athlete who ever lived. Either, teams can only be selected from the legitimate student body, OR it’s a professional team with no pretence to be “students”. Then there is no reason not to go ahead and go down to the roughest neighborhoods of LA or elsewhere and recruit raw potential athletic talent possibly with an age limit. They can become your professional team, paid athletes every one, who can also exploit their star potential in every way possible. And, now and then there will be a real student, who gains admission by the rules, tries out for the team, and gets selected. Then he is perfectly entitled to the same benefits as the professionally recruited athlete.

And then there’s another bonus. You can scrap the NCAA’s rule book and maybe reshape the organization so it is legitimately acting in the players interests rather than feathering its own nest.

So yes, I agree with the message of the documentary, but for completely different reasons.

 

 

 

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About the Author

 

 

There is a favorite line from my novella Dinner Party For Eight in which Angela asks Harry:

 

 “What do you think I am?”

Harry considered this for a moment. What was she actually?

 “Well I suppose you are a very beautiful cook.”

 

So if I have to answer the same question what am I actually? I would also need to consider this for a moment. I would like to say I’m an ex astronaut, have more degrees than a thermometer, have competed in the Tour de France without any EPO, surfed Teahupoo in Tahiti and emerged unscathed, sailed round the world, am an ace Alpine skier, am a member of Mensa, have a beauty queen wife and gorgeous kids, and started my own corporation which has listed on NASDAQ. I could go on but like Arnold Schwarzenegger I don’t want to boast.

Well to be honest, I have gone some of the way towards all those things. I do have a letter from Wernher von Braun, I do have three degrees in Physics, I have flown in a jet plane (Emirates Air), I do cycle the mega steep hills here where I live but unfortunately can’t get EPO anywhere, I am a keen surfer who has almost managed to break his neck, I am an ocean going skipper and I did own my own yacht though if it was me I wouldn’t sail with me as captain, I do ski but you need to get out of the way, I do have a beautiful wife (though her agreeing to marry me has to be my biggest piece of luck ever) and two great kids, I do have my own software business but no stock exchanges alas and I would like to take the Mensa test but I’m pretty sure I would fail and then I wouldn’t be able to live with that so I would rather rationalize. I live in that sapphire city – Cape Town.

 

 

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Documentary: Schooled: The Price of College Sports

The article discusses the thought provoking TV documentary " Schooled: The Price of College Sports" and the exploitation of athletes on whose backs the billion dollar college football and baseball industry is built. The real culprits in this racket are exposed.

  • Author: Paul Stevens
  • Published: 2015-09-12 13:50:10
  • Words: 4241
Documentary: Schooled: The Price of College Sports Documentary: Schooled: The Price of College Sports