Wednesday, April 3, 2013

End the March Madness: Pay the Players!

We are in the month of April, but March Madness is still in full effect. I must confess, I'm a casual college basketball fan and a huge NBA fan -- even though my 76er's have not been relevant since Bubba Chuck or the Answer or AI laced up his kicks doing his prime Philly years.

College hoops does move my interest meter during March Madness. But every time I see the NCAA basketball take the center stage during MM, I think, everybody is getting paid big bucks except the main characters -- the players.

The Billion dollar payday.

The participating university institutions: big windfall -- let's call college sports the building fund.

The high profile coaches: lucrative commercial endorsements, huge salaries and virtually unchecked kingdoms on campus.

The networks: CBS, ESPN, TNT, TBS, et al, receive premium rates for high demand commercials spots.

Even the broadcasters and the refs get the big check!

The stars get Nathan, Nada, Zero...

Two jarring events this year has shed the light on how egregiously unfair this arrangement is:
First up: Keven Ware...and yes I too teared up when I watched the video.

Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome injury in the team’s Elite 8 game on Sunday afternoon.

The sophomore broke his leg towards the end of the second half of the Midwest Regional final against Duke. After landing on his feet, Ware fractured his right tibia and saw the bone in his leg break through his skin.

Ware’s teammates had a tough time watching the guard break his leg. Those that were on the court fell to the floor, barely able to watch their friend in pain. Junior guard Russ Smith started to cry after the horrific injury.  source

Next batter up or should I say batterer up (maybe Spree was in the right when he kirked on his coach): Rutgers coach Mike Rice.

Rutgers University fired head basketball coach Mike Rice on Wednesday after ESPN broadcast a video showing him physically and verbally abusing players.

The video, which ESPN said features excerpts of practice sessions shot between 2010 and 2012, initially had earned Rice a three-game suspension, a $75,000 fine and a ticket to anger management classes.

"You f**king fairy ... you're a f**king fa**ot," Rice appears to say during one session depicted on the video, which also shows him shoving and throwing basketballs at players.

Under pressure from incensed state officials to take stronger action, Athletic Director Tim Pernetti said Wednesday that he had made a mistake in favoring suspension.  source

How to structure a fair compensation plan? I do not know. But I ain't buying the classic refrain: They get a free education for their service.

Nah, in my book, college players are being pimped.

The NCAA operates a multi-billion dollar collegiate sports industry, but refuses to admit that its employees students are anything other than amateurs.

For example, Florida head coach Billy Donovan recently appeared in a commercial for UPS, which seemed to include every member of Florida’s basketball program except its players. Furthermore, Kevin Ware’s representation in the most recent iterations of college basketball video games must be Louisville’s “G #5″ instead of “Kevin Ware.” In both cases, using players’ images or names for a profit would violate their amateur status. Former NCAA athletes are currently involved in a class action lawsuit against the NCAA over its licensing of their likeness in such video games.

And let’s not kid ourselves; especially on powerhouse teams, collegiate rosters are filled out by athlete-students, not the other way around. From one-and-done recruits to softball courses specifically for varsity athletes to outright grade-changes, the idea that players are really on campus for the sake of going to college, and only play sports on the side, is laughable. They are on campus to win games and make money for their respective universities, though ticket sales, ad revenue and licensing rights. source

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