There are nights when PG Shabazz Napier, of the National Champion UConn Huskies, goes to bed hungry. Let that statement sink in while I tell you the about the deal the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has with TBS and CBS for the rights to broadcast the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The NCAA makes $10.8 billion by selling the broadcast rights. After taxes, it is still $10.8 billion, because the NCAA is “non-profit.” They make all of this money off one tournament, yet if Napier were to even accept one meal from any university employees or boosters, he would have to appear before an NCAA board to explain why he broke NCAA rules.
This is a joke, yet the NCAA thinks they are doing the right thing. After it was decided that the players at UMass were employees of their university, and therefore could unionize, the NCAA made this statement.
“You can’t split that in two. You’re either a student playing sports or you’re an employee of a university,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert. “It would blow up everything about the collegiate model of athletics.”
It’s true, unions will blow up the collegiate model of athletics, but that is a good thing. With students, being employees the NCAA will be liable for them, and have to give them some type of compensation, something more than the fake education, and room and board argument. What good is an education if you spend half of your time on the road to play games or at practice? They do not get the same education other students get, and don’t have the same opportunity to get a college job either, and therefore cannot make spending money for food and other necessities.
As a college student, I can attest to the fact I couldn’t eat a decent meal every night if I did not have a part-time job to earn some spending money. People say that athletes get meal plans, and can eat at the dining hall. Those people have probably never eaten dining hall food. It is not something you can live off, it is mostly low quality, and the dining halls often close early, so if you find yourself hungry at 10 pm and don’t have any money, you are going to go to bed hungry.
The NCAA likes to claim that the players play for the love of the game, but there are a few problems with that claim. One, if the players are doing it for the love of the game, then what is the NCAA doing it for. Why is it ok for them to take money to support something they love, but if the players take money for doing something they love it is wrong? The logic here makes no sense. It is also a flat out lie, because the players clearly want to be compensated, that is why they keep trying to take the NCAA and different Universities to court.
As more and more shocking stories like Napier going to bed hungry begin to come out , thankfully more and more people start to side with the players. The NCAA can hide behind its rules and regulations for as long as it wants, but eventually public opinion will pressure them into change. They may not like the union solution, but it is the solution that will come to be if the NCAA doesn’t step up and make progress on their own. The Union solution has its cons, but it is better than the current system that manipulates and exploits the players. As of right now, The NBA is considering paying college players themselves to keep them in college longer.