Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Why College Basketball and Football Are a Sham" by Bojo

Imagine a situation where a professional organization wanted to willingly pay someone tens of millions of dollars for their services, and that person wanted to willingly provide their services to that organization. And everything was completely kosher from both a moral and legal standpoint, yet still neither party could enter into that deal.

Sounds somewhat…un-American, I might say.

Yet that is exactly what happens every single year with big-time college football and basketball, which over the decades have warped into (or always were) the farm systems for the NFL and NBA.  I don’t have to remind anyone that considers themselves even a casual sports fan that this system has become more and more exaggerated in its unfairness over the years. Large television deals and ticket sales bring in countless millions to universities, who in turn pay their athletic department members incredibly well. The professional sports teams get their farm systems, at no cost. Everyone wins except the athletes, somewhat per usual.

The NFL and MLB have their own, distinct, professional “minor” leagues, where players are paid, and are not burdened with the ‘amateur’ tag by any governing body, allowing them to make that money. There are a number of advantages to this. Specially talented players like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper in the MLB can bypass the entire process and head straight to the big leagues (and make the big bucks they rightfully are able to earn), while there is still ample room for the less prodigious players to develop into MLB level talents, while actually earning money along the way.

I think that is the proper system, or at the very least, you can’t bar athletes like Jadeveon Clowney and Jameis Winston from making money that NFL teams are ready to pay them. Two years ago, Clowney would have been a top ten pick. In last year’s NFL draft, he would have gone number one overall. In 2013, his performance suffered, probably at least in part to the fact that he is a human being and not a football-playing-robot, and thus, injury had to be at least partly in the back of his mind. And while yes, these athletes can and do take out insurance policies on themselves, a one time payment of 1-5 million dollars is nothing compared to what a decade-long NFL career can yield. 

One of the major arguments against high school athletes heading straight to the pros come in the forms of the Sebastian Telfair’s, or other players whose athletic careers have not panned out as planned. However, just because some players have failed, does not mean we should leap as a society to prevent, somewhat arbitrarily, someone from earning money that they are capable of earning. It goes against a lot of principles this country is founded on.
In terms of alternatives, I would have to defer to someone infinitely more informed on the subject than myself, but all I know is that preventing basketball players even a year, and preventing football players three years from earning money that they otherwise would be earning, is unfair, and un-American. It should end.

As I write this, I can’t help but make the mental leap that the predominantly white sports of baseball and hockey have systems where players can leap from high school to the pros or paid minor leagues, while the predominantly black NFL and NBA do not. But that too might be a discussion for some more intelligent and informed than myself.