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John Brock: Play-for-pay for amateur athletes? What about cheerleaders?

  • Thursday, September 26, 2013

  • Updated Saturday, September 28, 2013 10:30 pm

College campuses are once again rumbling with ideas about the need to pay their athletes. It is and has always remained one of the worst ideas to originate from the ivy-covered walls since the unveiling of Political Correctness. But this time it's not coming primarily from the faculty but from the coaching staff, sports writers and boosters.

Most of the noise reverberates around just football and basketball players because as proponents of play-for-pay say, these two sports are where the money is and should be shared with the participants. I say hogwash!

And so will the courts because such a scheme is entirely contrary to Federal Law, Title IX which mandates equal consideration for all sport participants and was passed to give female athletes a fair shot at scholarship revenues.

Although I am opposed to some elements of the Title IX restrictions because it has resulted in the elimination of some sports from the college campus, it has the good intention of treating all Student/Athletes equally.

Collegiate sports, in fact almost all sports, used to be played for the love of the game and never for money. But in a world where some individual professional athletes are paid more than all of the U.S. presidents since George Washington combined, I can see greed staring out from behind the curtains of college sports. Many college coaches and boosters want the best athletes money can buy.

The vast majority of coaches of all stripes are good and decent mentors of young folks. I know because I had some of the best of this brand while playing high school and college football. But today, many coaches — some of whom make much more money than their college president — want to ensure their jobs by “hiring” only the best the high school gridirons have to offer. A winning coach keeps his job, you know!

The whole idea of paying football/basketball athletes, the best of whom are already on full scholarships, is abhorrent when you consider that they have already been awarded scholarships and grants worth anywhere from $25,000 to $65,000 or more per year depending on the school they are attending. All of this while most kids are having to pay full tuition, room, books, board plus other incidentals and come out loaded with a mountain of debt.

The NCAA has a fund to help athletes pay for emergencies, heath, travel and hardships.

Although the big prize is obtained by just a few who sign on to a professional team, the possibility of hundreds of millions of dollars awaits the few who prove proficiency in amateur sports. Many others wind up with no professional contract and not much of a college education.

During my days as a student, and later as a professor and university vice-president, I knew numerous students who would not have been able to attend college without an athletic scholarship. Most of them went on to become successes in life outside the realm of professional sports. There is a place for athletic scholarships.

But, today, we witness the recruitment of students who have no or very little academic qualifications to attend college. They are recruited simply because they can do wonders with a ball.

And it shows. If you don't believe me just look at some of the professional products you see on television after the game. They were completely robbed of the real purpose of college — an education! Here are several examples gleaned from the Internet:

New Orleans Saint running back, George Rogers, when asked about the upcoming season: “I want to rush for 1,000 or 1,500 yards — whichever comes first.”

Joe Jacobi of the Washington Redskins: “I'd run over my own mother to win the Super Bowl.”

Former player Joe Theismann: “Nobody in football should be called a genius. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein.”

A senior basketball player at the University of Pittsburgh: “I'm going to graduate on time — no matter how long it takes.”

Who can forget the words of NC State great Charles Shackelford: “I can go to my left or right. I am amphibious.”

And my favorite: Chicago Blackhawks left wing explaining why he keeps a photo of himself above his locker: “That's so when I forget how to spell my name, I can still find my clothes.”

Most of these make millions plying their talents in the professional arena. Now really, do you think they should have been paid for participating in college sports?

In fact, you have to wonder how they got into college in the first place. Oh that's right — to win for the coaches, sportswriters and boosters!

John Brock is a retired college professor and, newspaper editor/publisher, who lives in Georgetown County. He can be reached by mail at this newspaper, or by Email at brock@johnbrock.com.

Opinions that appear on this page in Letters to the Editor or in columns do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.


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