Saturday, September 17, 2011

Power Corrupts

Power, corruption, exploitation. Holdovers from the twentieth century, and the centuries that preceded it. And the very antithesis of what is going to get us through this century.
Where is currently one of the worst examples and practitioners of power, corruption and exploitation? You might be surprised.

The Shame of College Sports.

Its a very long piece from The Atlantic, but should be required reading for all of us who want to relegate this kind of organizational abuse to the history books. The practices of the NCAA and big business universities of college football and basketball in the U.S. have no place in a modern society.

For all the outrage, the real scandal is not that students are getting illegally paid or recruited, it’s that two of the noble principles on which the NCAA justifies its existence—“amateurism” and the “student-athlete”—are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes. The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid, but that more of them are not.

Don Curtis, a UNC trustee, told me that impoverished football players cannot afford movie tickets or bus fare home. Curtis is a rarity among those in higher education today, in that he dares to violate the signal taboo: “I think we should pay these guys something.”
Fans and educators alike recoil from this proposal as though from original sin. Amateurism is the whole point, they say. Paid athletes would destroy the integrity and appeal of college sports. Many former college athletes object that money would have spoiled the sanctity of the bond they enjoyed with their teammates. I, too, once shuddered instinctively at the notion of paid college athletes.
But after an inquiry that took me into locker rooms and ivory towers across the country, I have come to believe that sentiment blinds us to what’s before our eyes. Big-time college sports are fully commercialized. Billions of dollars flow through them each year. The NCAA makes money, and enables universities and corporations to make money, from the unpaid labor of young athletes. 

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