Jun. 27—My parents were so unfair, stealing my hard-earned money.
They insisted that one-third of the net pay from my paper route go to savings and one-third to them for room and board.
Out of the remainder, I paid an installment on the moped they had bought to make the job of negotiating those Palisades hills easier, and doled out a couple of bucks to my little sisters, who helped collate and rubber-band those huge Sunday papers. You know, business expenses.
On a good month, after all of that maybe I had enough left to buy the latest Earth, Wind & Fire album.
What a rip-off ! I worked hard for that money ! Why shouldn’t I be allowed to do whatever I want with all of it ?
My attitude was due to an abrupt transition from a lifelong free ride of never having to pay for food, clothes and a place to live. If we discount all emotion, kids are expenses—big ones—that produce zero financial return. Well, until that paper route … which wasn’t quite the Mississippi River of revenue streams. It was all what we now call a “teachable moment.”
But what about other 17-year-olds who are prodigies in an extremely profitable endeavor ? They are so good at something they will generate thousands, maybe even millions of dollars within a year or two.
Shouldn’t they be paid something for what they bring in ?
Not if their daddy is the NCAA, which considers them “amateurs.”
As Michael Corleone said, “My offer is this. Nothing.”
OK, a college scholarship is not “nothing, ” so, yes, student-athletes are “compensated.” And the college sports hierarchy is not quite the mafia. But no lesser body than the Supreme Court of the United States ruled unanimously this week that the NCAA can no longer use a twisted definition of amateurism to strong-arm student-athletes the way it has, seemingly forever.
And while that quote above is so fun to use, I’ve got to admit it’s a bit out of context. Here’s the more appropriate one for this conversation, from the same “The Godfather Part II ” scene : “Senator, we are both part of the same hypocrisy.”
Pop culture references from the 1970s might be lost on Dylan Mauga, Imagine Patterson, Parker Spencer and others in my sports journalism classes. But one thing about college students and young people in general : They have a sharp eye for inequity.
When allowed to choose their own topic for a semester-long reporting project, those three went with the issue of paying student-athletes. They produced well-researched and insightful work. They agreed to share some of it, and thoughts after Monday’s ruling, here.
“(College sports ) have all the attributes of professional sports with none of the benefits for players, ” wrote Mauga, a senior from Washington state. “While they carry the workload, they see the least of the prosperity.”
The SCOTUS ruling specifically addressed the NCAA limiting education-related benefits for student-athletes. But the court’s opinion includes language that opens a wide door, including in regards to the red-hot name, image and likeness issue.
Several states are already on this with pending legislation, but not Hawaii yet.
“It looks like the various states will have their own laws. So, let’s say if Hawaii’s legislation is more beneficial to athletes than other states, that could help recruiting, ” Mauga said.”Maybe the rich will get richer. But at least this way it will be above the table.”
Mauga mentioned the case of Terrelle Pryor, the Ohio State star who was alleged to have broken NCAA rules by selling autographed memorabilia—HIS autograph. The way things are headed now, that would no longer be against the rules.
Here’s one of many questions : Should a student-athlete have to share any money he or she makes with teammates, other fellow athletes, the athletic department and /or the school ?
“I understand about the university providing the platform, the stage, ” said Patterson, a UH hurdler and sprinter from South Carolina who also competed at Virginia Tech. “It all depends who initiated it. Let’s say the athlete works it out so the bookstore sells his jersey, then more (money ) should fall toward the athlete. If it’s something where the school does it, that’s where the lines get blurry, and it could be a backdoor to the way they’ve been doing it, part of a system the highest court says unanimously is an illegal business model.”
Spencer doesn’t think college athletes should receive huge amounts of money, but has seen enough to believe that they aren’t getting enough now.
“Why are my classmates struggling to buy dinner for themselves after a long day at practice when they are on fully paid athletic scholarships with a stipend ? Most star athletes that I see ride pre-owned mopeds or even catch the city bus to get where they need to go, ” said Spencer, who played football at Punahou and is considering law school. “If these athletes were properly compensated for their daily contribution to the university’s athletic system on top of managing their grades and academics, perhaps it would help them perform even better in their athletic field.
“The compensation should be enough for the typical student-athlete to live comfortably without having to worry about where his next meal is going to come from, or if they’re going to have enough money from their stipend to cover their expenses for the remainder of the month.”
Then there is the remainder of their lives. I want to see a reformed NCAA and its member schools take more responsibility to help student-athletes who are broken physically, mentally and /or emotionally, especially if their college sports experiences are among the causes.
“The colleges should reach out to those who continue to struggle, ” he said. “I believe it is the moral responsibility of the university to maintain a constant healthy relationship with athletes who made a major contribution to the athletic program and income.”
What will the consequences be of the Supreme Court ruling ? Bidding wars ? All athletes receiving salaries, including walk-ons ? What happens to team chemistry dynamics ? What happens to Division II and Division III ? Gender equity ?
The only certainty is the NCAA can no longer demand fealty from student-athletes, which was never appropriate or fair to begin with, and especially once the big money began to roll in.