This is the fourth article dealing with the need to pay college basketball student-athletes. It is important for the reader to understand, as noted in earlier articles, that college basketball is no longer a sport in the traditional Hellenic sense. It is, pure and simple, a big business that is in the business of providing entertainment in order to make money. A small group of individuals provide the entertainment and, contrary to American democratic principles and capitalism, are essentially deprived of fair compensation. Most of these entertainers in basketball get little to nothing in terms of monetary salaries. A handful are later provided significant financial rewards; it is almost strictly a matter if the entertainers make the NBA. First round draft choices are guaranteed a million dollars a year for three years. Second round draft choices get nothing unless they make the team.
The S-A problem is still alive and doing well – at least for now. It could have been avoided. But the NCAA, some conferences, some schools, and many school presidents/athletic directors/coaches all got greedy. The NCAA’s attempts in the future to stop the process to pay S-As will fall flat on its face. Instead, I predict that the NCAA will make some token overtures in the near future to correct their abuses of the past, but unfortunately for the NCAA, it will be too late to close the barn door; in effect, the train will have already left the station. The NCAA “concept” that the college players are students, or student-athletes, will have outlived its time.
The position of the NCAA and their so-called institutions of higher learning seems illegal, unprofessional, unethical, etc. On top of that, it seems to be un-American; it violates the true spirit of free enterprise. After all, why can the author sell his talents (did the author mention he was a salaried chemical engineering professor for 50 years?) and these kids can’t? In the meantime, the NCAA, along with most college and university presidents, continue to deny student-athletes contracts, potential endorsements, a percentage of gate and TV receipts, or part of the lucrative NCAA pot. They argue that concessions of this nature will corrupt the S-A and destroy the status of amateur athletics.
The NCAA has argued in the past that, in effect, their rules are in the interest of collegiate sports, maintaining core values in amateurism, and in providing an integrated experience of academics and athletics. Does anybody in the reading audience believe the NCAA horse manure? The NCAA has never mentioned the collaborative/cooperative actions of its member schools which has deprived individuals of their rights in a democratic capitalistic system. It seems to the author that the NCAA has been involved in a price fixing scandal.
What can presently be said regarding the corruption of major collegiate sports, i.e., basketball and football? Multi-billion dollar TV deals attest to the economic incentive to provide the very best in entertainment. But what about the athletes, or the more inappropriately referred-to student-athletes (in most cases)? What’s their compensation? Essentially, it is peanuts, and the powers to be want to keep it that way.
One can only wonder if S-As give thought to what they have given to society. One can only wonder if the NCAA has ever given thought to the S-As’ role in society. The author believes the suits at the NCAA rarely give thought to the aspirations and the future of the unsuccessful S-s, who would more appropriately be referred to as USAs.
Even after high school, the main problem with many of the S-As is that no one has taught them how to be a star in college. There is television, radio, crowds, press conferences, interviews, etc. Some of these activities are often embarrassing. The main problem with the successful basketball S-As (in this case, that means reaching the NBA) is that no one, once again, has taught them how to be a star. But what about those S-As who are not successful, i.e., the aforementioned unsuccessful S-As (or USAs). Once the (senior) season is over; the artificial stage of their college life has ended, and the USA’s glamorous world is gone. Kaput! It’s an irreversible happening that will never return.
What happens then? The USA returns to the real world … his home, his city, and in some cases, his country. He is effectively alone within a day. Some do return to their institution and keep in touch with their teammates, and occasionally their coaches, but the contact is inevitably limited. The ending comes quickly, as earlier social and professional contacts decrease at an exponential rate.
The former intimacy with both teammates and coaches also dissolves as the USA retreats into another world and is, once again, simply part of the masses. No longer is everything taken care of by other people – the servants who prepare his meals, outfit him, and provide travel arrangements are now history. And even worse, no one has forewarned him, and no one has taught him to adjust to a new lifestyle.
Is there a solution? Neal Gillen has offered his thoughts in my recent book “Basketball Coaching 101 (amazon.com or createspace.com, 450 pages, $17.95)”. Here is an outline of Gillen’s solution. “The issue must be addressed on three separate fronts: (A) An enforceable contract between the school and the student-athlete, (B) changing NCAA eligibility rules, and (C) professional leagues agreeing not to sign collegiate players until they or their class have graduated. I have also included provisions for player travel expenses and a monthly stipend to be determined. I did not include a provision for a student-athlete to participate in the proceeds of the sale of jerseys, T-shirts, or other memorabilia, but were I to do so, any such payments would not be forthcoming until the athlete or his or her class has graduated. There could be antitrust issues, but should the changes I propose be made and upheld, the game would change once more for the better.” Details on (A), (B) and (C) are available in my book.
Unfortunately, the S-A problem is still alive and well.
Was my book “Basketball Coaching 101” mentioned above? One chapter of the book was entitled “Crunch Time Management”; it was primarily concerned with the development of a procedure that would already be in place for time clock management at or near the end of a game. As a Giant fan, I had contacted John Mara and Steve Tisch along with Jerry Reese in 2013 regarding applying my simple procedure to football. The letter was ignored.
So what happened this football season? The Giants lost their first two games because of poor crunch time decisions. The first game was an absolute embarrassment that demonstrated the incompetence of Coughlin and his staff. This could have been avoided had they applied my recommendations.
I would be remiss not to mention that this past Wednesday, October 28th, marked the 75th Anniversary of OHI Day. OHI is the Greek word for NO! This day commemorates when then Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas’ courageously refused the Fascist and Nazi demand to occupy Greece during World War II. Against far superior military powers and all odds, the Greek nation, with their faith in God, resisted the Axis Powers, delaying their advance and ultimately changing the tide of the War.
The Washington OHI Day Foundation video is a powerful and inspirational tribute, both commemorating the day and inspiring all society to be courageous and virtuous during a time of crisis.. Here’s the link”
Enjoy this great moment in history. Additional details are available in earlier postings in The Theodore Newsletter.
NEXT POSTINGS: (tentative)
DECEMBER 1: On Hofstra Men’s Basketball: 2015-16 Season
JANUARY 1: On How to Write a Book
FEBRUARY 1: On Climate Change II
MARCH 1: On Random Thoughts XXIII
APRIL 1: On Financial Inequity
MAY 1: On the 2016 East Williston School District Budget Vote