Monday, January 10, 2011

NCAA Abuses Defenseless Men of Color

With tonight's end of the college football season, we are reminded that Manhattan is the home of the Heisman Trophy and that the men who seek that trophy are being abused by the collegiate athletic regime currently in place. The NCAA controls nearly aspect of the lives of the college athletes and will not allow those athletes to benefit in any way from the billions of dollars of value they create for others.

Heisman Trophy

The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award in college sports. It is provided each year to the most outstanding football player in college football.

The award has always been headquartered in Manhattan. John Heisman was a legendary player, coach, and athletic director in college football. After his incredible career, he retired in New York City. At the Downtown Athletic Club in lower Manhattan, Heisman organized a process to select the most outstanding college football player. The first award was announced in 1935, but Heisman died before the 1936 award presentation. The Downtown Athletic Club named the award after Heisman and hosted the award ceremony until the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks damaged the Dowtown Athletic Club. Other Manhattan locations have hosted the ceremony in the years since 2001, and the Heisman Trophy's connection to Manhattan has been strengthened by the past decade rather than weakened by it.

Pay the Players in the Revenue Producing Sports

Maryland's Basketball Coach has advocated paying the student-athletes in the sports that generate large revenues for their schools. He has suggested a $200 per month stipend. But, one wonders why there are so few advocates for his suggested approach.

The NCAA generates more than $700 million each year, primarily from television rights. The schools represented by the NCAA generate additional revenue from merchandise sales and other opportunities. None of that revenue is shared with the athletes that are responsible for the creation of that revenue.

The NCAA's use of the likenesses of student-athletes in video games, on apparel, and on television promotions has caused a lawsuit based on the NCAA's apparent monopoly in the area of collegiate athletics, and the plaintiff is hoping to create momentum for paying student-athletes.

The monopoly's determination to avoid sharing the benefits of the athletes' talents with the athletes has an unmistakable racial component. In the modern era, as television revenues have exploded and wealth has been created by college sports, the athletes competing in the revenue producing sports of football and basketball are increasingly persons of color. The sports generating the largest amount of revenue are dominated by young men of color. The National Football League is nearly 70% Black, and college football is nearly 50% Black. The Division I college basketball rosters are approximately two-thirds Black. Young men of color have become the typical winners of and top competitors for the Heisman Trophy, and no athletes have been able to share in the revenues created by these individuals.

No Advocates for Student Athletes

The whales have Save the Whales. Professional athletes have unions;but student-athletes have no advocate.

The NCAA is $700 million each year to spend of defending its interests. Student-athletes are forbidden from even selling their own property to generate cash to defend their interests. When the NCAA takes action against a student-athlete, there is no defense attorney provided. The colleges look out for themselves and no one is positioned to defend the student-athlete.

If the NCAA continues to forbid student-athletes from receiving discounted services, they should face additional legal action. The NCAA is, in many ways, the adversary of these young men of color that generate all of the NCAA's revenue. The NCAA has attorneys, accountants, experts, consultants, and every type of professional guidance. The student athlete is not only on his/her own in battling the NCAA, but the NCAA's rules would both forbid the athlete for paying for guidance by selling assets and prevent the athlete from accepting guidance at no charge from a non-profit. They have twisted the concept of amateurism to mean that the NCAA has unlimited power to abuse the young people that create the NCAA's revenue and that those young people are violating rules by preparing the defend themselves against the NCAA.

These young people need an organization to defend them against the NCAA monopoly, and the NCAA must recognize the rights of these young people to accept guidance from professionals seeking to level the playing field.

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