The 2018 Rose Bowl, pitting Georgia against Oklahoma, was a spectacular display of athletic prowess. The stadium was packed, the game was televised and tens of millions of dollars were generated in advertising, food and beverage, and merchandise sales. And that’s just the beginning. Do you know how much money the players earned for their extraordinary, gladiator-like efforts? None. Zero. Nada.
Now the coaches, Nick Saban from Alabama and Kirby Smart from Georgia, well, that’s a different story. Saban earns $11.1 million a year, while Kirby Smart earns $3.7 million. This seems fair, right? The player’s risk career-ending, life-altering injuries for zero compensation while the coaches get rich. I mean, after all, most of these players come from poor, inner-city families, so shouldn’t they just be happy with a free college education?
This was the attitude of most slave owners prior to the Civil War. They believed that their slaves were just lucky to have food and shelter, because after all, they had committed the horrible crime of being born black. How dare they ask for anything more? It took a war that slaughtered 600,000 American’s to eradicate that level of racism.
Fast forward to Atlanta, Jan. 8, 2018, to the luxurious Mercedes Benz Stadium, where football players from Georgia and Alabama again Monday night risked serious injury. Their job is to entertain us, and bringing home the championship trophy puts millions more in the winning University’s coffers. Almost everyone involved in the game gets rich, except the players, the people that take all the risk and generate all the revenue.
Of course it’s against NCAA policy for a player to receive payment until he has left the university and gone pro. After that, they don’t care what the players do. Why would they? They just hand out more scholarships to a new group of slaves fresh out of high school and exploit them. It’s a money scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud. Meanwhile, only 1.7 percent of these college football players will ever earn a penny in the pros. So they polish their cherished diplomas and start applying for entry-level positions, while the coaches they played for are set for life, and the universities they bled for erect more buildings.
In addition to this modern day slavery, the growing rate of traumatic brain injuries has been downplayed for decades to protect profits. Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE, a head injury brought on by repeated concussions or micro-concussions, is a constant threat to every college football player. But should the NCAA compensate them for risking the health of their brain? Will the players really need to use it after they have their shiny new diploma?
College sports, like our society, are infected with racism. The schools take advantage of poor, talented athletes who accept whatever is offered to them because they can’t afford not to. The majority of these football players come from poor, inner-city families and are just thankful to be going to college. They don’t realize they’re being robbed.
You can bet your last dollar that if golf and tennis brought in the money that football and basketball do, the top players would all be millionaires by graduation day. The rich, white, powerful families that give their kids 10 years of private golf and tennis lessons at their local country club would own the NCAA and demand that their kids receive an equal share of the profits. They would have lawyers lined up from New York to Los Angeles until the NCAA was forced to do the right thing.
It’s time for the NCAA to step up and start paying these great athletes for the entertainment that they provide. The families of these poor kids don’t have the money or power to fight such an elite organization like the NCAA, which is why the fans need to fight on behalf of those that entertain them.