The University of Miami is in the news for the alleged conduct of some football and basketball players and coaches over an eight-year period. A rich booster, who is now in prison for conducting a nearly-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, has released seedy details of giving players and recruits gifts totaling tens of thousands of dollars.
My dad took me to my first UM football game in 1981 or 1982. I haven’t missed a season since, despite having lived in LA for a number of years now. To say I’m a die-hard, bleed-orange-and-green ‘Canes fan would be an understatement. I don’t wish to get into the particulars of this specific case, but I will say that the accuser is a convicted pathological liar and that most of the charges (though unfortunately not all) seem exaggerated or uncorroborated. I certainly hope so, anyway.
But I’d like to discuss how this relates to the primary theme and purpose of this site: liberty.
I can understand why universities would not want their student athletes receiving money - any money the students get is money not donated or otherwise given to the school. But what kind of rationale is that? The school and the NCAA, and the coaches, and ESPN, and video game designers, and countless others get to make
millions billions off students who can only receive scholarships, room, board, and some meals? This is a sham.
Personally, I don’t see the problem in allowing student athletes to make money. No other scholarship student is penalized for receiving money or gifts from outsiders. If an acting major was paid to sign autographs, who would stop him? If IBM offers grants to promising engineering students, who cries foul because IBM is a potential future employer? PHd students customarily help their professors in research for their for-profit textbooks - and are usually compensated in some form in return. Film students are urged to create school projects that can be in turn submitted to film festivals for cash prizes and distribution deals. Why shouldn’t college athletes - many of whom are statistically from low-income families - be afforded the same opportunity to capitalize on their skills, assets, and abilities?
The students should be free to pursue their interests however they wish as long as they are not hurting anyone else (which throws out any “knock X player out of the game for money”-type of situation). If the coaches think the athlete is a distraction or the athlete is not putting the team’s interest first, or whatever, then the coach can sit, suspend, or cut the kid. If the athlete can’t maintain a certain GPA because he’s distracted by the money, then the university can boot the kid.
The only caveat I would make is that the schools themselves, if funded by taxpayers, should not pay the athletes. But I don’t see how any private schools that receive money only from donations, sponsorships, tuitions, and other voluntary sources should be prohibited from doing so. If the school’s academics suffer because of their prioritization, then they lose tuitions, donations, etc. Also, having schools maintain a minimum number of students as a precondition to participating in NCAA sports is a perfectly reasonable requirement.
Student athletes should not be subjected to what essentially amounts to indentured servitude because of the government-supported monopoly of the NCAA and the government school system.
Education - and, thus, college sports - should be privatized.
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- einsteiner said: This is perfect. Thank you for writing what I’ve been thinking all day.
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