In the wake of Kevin Ware’s tibia fracture most foul in the Madness of March ™, once again the age-old American tradition of debating just how evil the NCAA is has started. And boy, howdy, is it ever a solid rehashing of the same old arguments for or against players being paid, spat out by TV and radio pundits, and called in on by their listeners - myself excluded. I have never called in on a radio show and I never will. In fact, as soon as a sports radio personality says something similar to, “Let’s take some calls,” or, “Let’s go to the phones,” my hand immediately goes to the volume knob and turns it sharply in a counter-clockwise manner. You see, I have absolutely zero interest in listening to the opinion of “Sports-Dog” from Buttfuck, Suburbia communicated via a semi-operable Bluetooth device jammed in his ear as he drives home from his job as a high school janitor to his overweight wife and precious twenty-four pack of MGD which he will drink half of and then wish longingly for the sweet embrace of death so he can go to heaven and be a sixteen-year-old varsity football star at the same high school and thrash hymens to his heart’s content. But he just passes out and wakes up the next day and does the same shit over again.
But as this is my website, and you don’t have to listen to my voice, and you have clearly chosen to keep reading this far, and are probably the only person who will read this article, I will submit my opinion into the hopper regarding the issue of student athlete pay:
Don’t get me wrong. I understand that A. the NCAA makes a KILLING by televising college sports, via merchandising and via the video game revenues and B. that the NCAA management and coaching staff are handsomely compensated for doing things that don’t expose them to the risk of one’s tibia thrusting through one’s shin on a national broadcast so we can all watch it over and over again on Deadspin thereafter. However, what I take away from this counter-argument is that the corporation that is the NCAA is evil because of the amount of money it makes, not because student-athletes should be paid. How about we take away the money from the NCAA CEO, not throw it at the dudes/chicks on the bottom of the pyramid scheme?
Now, I’m not knocking jocks. I get it. Sports are fun. Sports are a passion for many. Sports can be a career for a select, gifted few. But you have to pay your dues first before you get to that level because, frankly, in the grand scheme of things athletics just aren’t that important to society as a whole. All those nerds in the laboratories and classrooms of the university that the athlete is playing for are the ones who can potentially cure cancer or colonize Mars. And the student-athlete is helping pay for said nerds to have better laboratories and classrooms so they can make sure we don’t all die of cancer in the harsh Martian winter.
And if we were to pay student athletes, well, then they instantly become professional athletes. That means that NCAA athletics essentially become another NBA D-league or AAA ball club or Canadian Football League or ECHL or whatnots. And while many may not have a problem with this, I tend to think that invariably people would lose interest because, honestly, it’s more fun to watch Clayton Kershaw pitch than Nameless McGee of the USC Trojans who stands no chance of making it any farther than the Phillies farm-system should he be drafted.
So, yeah, it sucks that our young men and women occasionally get hurt and are kind of exploited for our amusement and for the profits of others. But let’s be honest, men and women break themselves in beer-league softball and pickup basketball games because that’s how we are wired. We will all kill ourselves for points. We are competitive, tribal species. And we will behave in this manner regardless of the presence of a video camera or a marching band comprised of uncoordinated, sexually frustrated, hopelessly un-cool goofballs like this: http://deadspin.com/we-need-to-talk-about-the-harvard-band-458365809