NCAA Gets A Shot of Racial, Economic Justice

With the reaction of NCAA and university sports officials, you’d think the court had ruled sports unconstitutional. Well, Judge Claudia Wilken kinda-sorta did just that, and it’s a great thing.

Ruling for the plaintiffs, on anti-trust grounds, the judge argued that players must be played for..well..ermm..playing the game. Well, not even for playing the game per-se, but when images of them or their name/likeness is used, they should be compensated after that graduate…up to $5,000 per playing year. So check it, a young all-star from the streets makes it rain-bringing in million dollars of revenue for his team–and he is entitled to about $15,000-$20,000 of that for his entire career and can only access it post-grad. Revolutionary right? There are a lot of folks who think so and a lot of power-brokers who are scared shitless about this prospect. They are argue that the athletes, essential school employees, should not be paid, because 1) their salaries are better spent elsewhere (fancy gyms, libraries, tuition reduction, study abroad, research ect and 2) that their tuition waivers are in fact payment.

Let’s check out the first argument. Any CEO in America will likely argue that there is something s/he could do with the combined salaries of a host of employees. They make the company leaner, more efficient, more flush with cash, buy new offices, be more competitive ect. However, this wouldn’t fly, because in America, we (mostly) believe in payment for services provided. Many of us would also agree that along with healthcare, legal advise and food/hospitality, that entertainment is indeed a service we pay for. If we do agree that entertainment is a service that we have become accustomed to paying for, then athletes, much like actors, singers and party entertainment much paid for the services rendered—despite what we know we could’ve done with X amount of money. Also, work without payment—where someone else profits–has a name, it’s called exploitation, fuckery, bullshit (read: capitalism) and/or slavery.

The second argument is intriguing. Athletes are given scholarships to cover all or part of their tuition and fees while they play the game at their schools–and keep a certain GPA. That’s sounds like a good deal at first glance. However, anyone who has played on any competitive team knows that as much as coaches and others talk about the importances of GPA in interviews and in public, the only score that counts is the score when the buzzer hits. The unbelievable pressure to place sports–your job–before your academics is not only unnerving but the state of play. If you slack in the class, some professors will have your back and maybe even other students and you’ll keep your scholarship. Now, if you slack in the game, there will be no sympathy and you’ll surely lose your scholarship while probably still dealing with the added pressure of being a student. Furthermore, many of the top athletes at these schools are low income minorities who will probably never see the big leagues, this catch-22 distraction robs them of a full education and will likely cost them–and anyone else who doesn’t make the pros–a hefty amount after graduation.

Payment for services rendered is basic economics. Imagine what this could do for low-income folks and their families, particularly people of color. The cap should also be lifted. Lets call this what it is, a job and those whose services are superior should be payed a superior wage. There is no limit to talent and therefore should be no limit to what the talented might earn–unless of course, we’re putting limits on the amount schools can profit from said talent. Lets bring capitalism back into the 21st century and out of sharecropville. Fair wages for athletes is just common sense, and it happens to racial and economic justice too, oh, and good politics.

See the link Federal Judge Rules Against NCAA..for backstory.

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