Opinion: The university sports system needs a major overhaul to compensate the best players

The New York Times on Monday published an editorial titled "Paying Students to Play Will Ruin University Sports". It is not distinguished by new ideas or even by old poignant defenses.

What makes it remarkable is the way in which it is blatantly advocating the maintenance of a system that is fundamentally based on the much-maligned "redistribution of wealth".

That's what's driving the big university sports as they are now: elite college and basketball players are making millions and millions of dollars at their schools, and that money is being distributed elsewhere – to coaches , administrators, non-revenue programs or to cover excessive costs. sumptuous facilities. Meanwhile, players work with a very restrictive salary cap that allows them to acquire an education that they may or may not complete (or actually receive). And we have a system that would tip most Republicans in the direction of Alexandria. Ocasio-Cortez because, well, it was like that and we feel good. I suppose.

Here is the author of NYT, Cody J. McDavis, former basketball player of Northern Colorado and law student of the University of Los Angeles, discusses in the following terms:

But paying the athletes would distort the economics of university sports, to the detriment of the community of student athletes, universities, fans and alumni. A handful of major sports programs would pay a high price for a select few athletes, while almost all other colleges would be caught in a difficult war that they could not afford.

First, these few major sports programs already have the most money and spend it to get the best athletes, while all the other colleges are trying to catch up. But secondly, why should footballers and men's basketball players shoulder the burden of ensuring that the "extended community" is not hurt?

McDavis is adamant on this point, however.

Force the CNA.A. paying student-athletes would compromise the opportunities for the vast majority of them. This would create a win-win-all system in which only a handful of the best recruits would get a paycheck in addition to obtaining a diploma without debt.

Similar problems would arise in the case of so-called third party payments, in which student athletes could be paid for things like endorsements. Major brands like Nike would pay the best football and basketball talents in the larger schools, while student-athletes from other sports or smaller programs would be ignored. Currently, corporate funds go to sports departments and are generally distributed among all sports. with payments to third parties, these funds could go directly to a few student-athletes, starving the rest.

Yes, it is very likely that if male football and basketball players were paid by the schools, they would choose to reduce spending in other areas. And if Nike could pay Zion Williamson directly, he would pay less than Duke, and Duke would have less money to spend on women's basketball, cross country or rowing.

But are we really going to pretend that these schools would really to have to get out of the sponsorship of other sports? The sports cup is a potential source to find the funds needed to better pay players or allow them to earn money through their image, but by far not the only one. The defensive coordinator of LSU earns $ 2.5 million a year, while the university president earns a little over half a million. Some costs could be contained here.

And if it happened that schools give up tennis to hunt five-star recruits, would we really blame the football and basketball players who finally get a fair compensation instead of leaving the businessmen behind? make the decision to participate in the arms race?

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The vast majority of NCAA sports programs – in all divisions – do not draw money from football and basketball, but nevertheless succeed in aligning teams in other sports. And in the largest and richest schools, there is a lot of money to spend. Patrick Hruby showed it forcefully at the end of Sports On Earth:

Two years ago, the University of Michigan spent about $ 9 million on unpaid sports scholarships. The school earns about $ 5.1 million in ticket revenue for a single home football game. Do the math: without spending a penny of the millions of sponsorship contracts, alumni donations, and television rights, Michigan can pay the entire bill for all female water polo wrestlers for two Saturday afternoons.

To claim that the existence of "Olympic sports", as they are sometimes called, depends on the elimination of payment to college football and male basketball players is a joke, pure and simple.

McDavis also recalls a common argument that athletes who wish to be paid should look for options outside of the NCAA, such as playing abroad or in the NBA G League, but that does not take into account the fact that the Best minor league system, in terms of exposure to amateur and professional scouts of football and basketball, is run by NCAA schools. It's always the right business decision to get into the defective college system, but that hardly justifies the system (Deadspin now offers an interesting article that discusses the first year of business). School of Ben Simmons.)

In addition, today 's college athletes want to play for the teams they grew up looking at, in the bowling games and the Sweet Sixteen matches they dreamed of when they were children. The price of this should not be to give up their right to earn what they are worth. No other students are invited to make this compromise in order to benefit from another type of scholarship or to participate in a school-sponsored activity.

There are two distinct levels of "university sports". Most fans hear these words and immediately think of the Power 5 football and basketball titans and rookies ranked first by Rivals and 247 each year. They are elite athletes and the most popular sports teams in the country, providing entertainment generating billions of dollars a year. The "student-athletes" involved are, in general, more focused on their sports careers. They are hoping to become professional – and their millionaire coaches require hours and hours of throwing and studying movies. Paying them with one-year renewable scholarships is terribly inadequate.

We know, more clearly than ever before, thanks to the FBI survey on college basketball, that there is already a black market that is channeling money to people lined up with players. Paying light is better for players and schools, which will no longer need to spend so much time and money on "compliance" efforts to stop unacceptable payments.

Instead, the schools that make up the NCAA continue to work together to lower the value of players and restrict their access to a free market that rewards some of them.

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Then there's the rest of college sport, where most athletes call themselves professionals in "something other than sports," as the ads say. They work just as hard to win championships but usually stay in school because, in most cases, it is not possible to leave early for a lucrative career. Sport, for them, is really an extra-curricular activity – with many benefits, both for them and for the university community. The money of the scholarships makes sense for them. This is a good montage. This should be saved.

Any argument that it can only be saved at the expense of football and equitably treated basketball players is derisory. These players simply deserve a bigger share of the money that they generate as the main players in their very popular sports leagues.

Leave it to someone else to determine how to keep the ponds filled, buy the field hockey equipment and ensure that the salary of the track coach does not rebound. not. There is a way – especially if these teams are as important as McDavis's argument insists they are.

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