Sunday, June 30, 2013

If the NCAA Were Defending Slavery Here’s What It Might Look Like

Fortunately All They Are Doing is Defending Exploitation of College Students

[Editor's note:  Anyone finding the following commentary offensive should not read it.]

Colleges and universities and their athletic organization, the NCAA make billions off of the efforts of college athletes.  In part they make these billions by denying the students who actually perform in athletic contests any share of the proceeds.  That this is or should be blatantly illegal is beside the point for the schools, they just want the money.

Because the NCAA sanctions the taking of the images of athletes and selling them for profit, without allowing the individuals themselves to share in the money or even have to give permission, a lawsuit is slowly, (very slowly) proceeding through the court system.  The latest element is an attempt to turn it into a class action suit.

Former college basketball standout Ed O'Bannon and his lawyers sought on Thursday to dramatically expand his lawsuit challenging the NCAA's ban on compensating athletes in a move that could expose the organization and its member schools to billions of dollars in damages.

O'Bannon and his lawyers asked a federal court judge to turn their antitrust lawsuit into a class action, representing thousands of former and current college athletes. The lawsuit demands that the NCAA find a way to cut players in on the billions of dollars earned by college sports from live broadcasts, memorabilia sales, video games and in other areas.

The defense of the NCAA is not that what they are doing is right, but that they have to do it because they are entitled to make money off of the athletes.  Here is what the NCAA and the colleges say.

The NCAA argues that many of the athletes receive scholarships in exchange for playing sports and to pay student athletes would ruin amateur athletics. To pay athletes more than that would ruin collegiate sports, the NCAA argues.

Of course the ruin would not be to college sports, the ruin would be to the huge monies that go to the NCAA, its officials and to colleges and universities. Penn State just gave its football coach a $900,000+ raise and somebody has to pay for that and why shouldn't it be student athletes.

When reading that paragraph one could easily imagine the same argument that the NCAA uses being applied to the issue of slavery in the 19th century.

Montgomery, Alabama (AP) June 22, 1857.  NCAA officials today intervened in the argument about slavery to state that slavery was necessary and that to free slaves would ruin agriculture and industry in the areas that had slavery.

“Slave owners already provide slaves and their families with free room and board, and free medical care” an unnamed official of the NCAA said.  “to give them money for their labor and to allow them to actually leave slavery and live as free individuals would ruin those industries that depend on slave labor for their profits.”

The NCAA went on to argue that slaves should be denied any redress by the courts, stating that “Hey, they are slaves, doesn’t anyone get that?”

Yeah, that’s probably what it would have sounded like.

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