“The NCAA was founded in 1906 to protect young people from the dangerous and exploitative athletics practices of the time.” These are not my words. These are the words found on the NCAA’s official website. However if you take the time to examine this statement, it resonates with hypocrisy.
By its own admission, the NCAA was founded more than 100 years ago. Is there anything in existence today that is 100 years old that is not in need of renovation? I truly doubt that an office building constructed circa 1910 will be structurally sound enough to pass today’s stringent engineering standards. How many 100 year old cars do you see traveling today’s highways. If I live to see 100 years of age, will I be able to keep up with the times of 2071? I think you know where this is about to go.
I’m not going to bore you with the innate history of the NCAA from 1906 to present, instead I will state some of the most common assumptions a college football enthusiast would make. College football and basketball were more recreation than entertainment when the NCAA was formed. None of the NCAA’s founding fathers could envision the level of technology their great grandchildren would invent in the new millennium. The revenue generated from these two sports has grown more in the last 20 years than in the previous 80 years. Under such assumptions, any other regulatory agency in existence may receive hundreds, if not thousands of overhauls during a 20 year period, not to mention during a 100 year period.
It’s safe to say that at one point and time, the NCAA’s main purpose was to preserve amateurism in college athletics. However, its two main revenue generating sports are anything but amateur these days.
The television contracts, apparel licensing, and ticket sales alone make these two sports worth more than the country’s fourth biggest professional sport, hockey. Some argue that college football alone generates more profit per year than the NBA- so why is everyone involved in this equation receiving compensation except for its athletes who are “the show?”
Recent investigations into programs like USC, Ohio State, North Carolina, and Oregon revealed multiple infractions that have resulted in sanctions, ineligibility, resignations and firings. In some cases, the cover up was worse than the crime. In other cases, athletes took advantage of their celebrity in exchange for financial considerations that amount to pennies on the dollar considering their actual worth.
Good coaches no longer work in college sports because they failed to exhibit institutional control or because they lied to protect the players who allow for these coaches to win and subsequently command massive seven figure annual salaries. One may ask “How is this possible?” Quite simply, the rule book in effect governs a game that is no longer played.
Any other profit generating machine has valued employees who are the backbone of the entity. In many instances, these employees have an advocate in place who protects them from the rules created by the employers. So how can the NCAA be the de-facto employer and work for the best interest of the employees? At best this seems to be a huge conflict of interest.
The union steward of the Teamsters cannot be the CEO of General Motors. DeMaurice Smith of the NFLPA cannot be the commissioner of the NFL. Who is in place to protect the players from the office of Dr. Mark Emmert (NCAA President)? It begs to ask the question, is the NCAA truly “protecting young people from the dangerous and exploitive athletics practices of the time?” Or, is the NCAA the organization exploiting athletes by way of the practices of the time?
Opinions will abound on both sides of the argument. However if we quit disguising the scent of college football and basketball on the Division I level with “amateur spray”, the correct argument is surprisingly clear.
The NCAA of the 20th century is not the appropriate governing body for what these sports have morphed into; huge revenue generating entities that continue to get richer on the backs, shoulder, and knees of the same men they were sworn to protect.