With increasing frequency there are scandals brewing in college sports
in America, particular surrounding football. Even my beloved Oregon
Ducks are under investigation by the NCAA at this time. The basic
problem is that the NCAA requires that student athletes not receive any
compensation in return for recruitment for or participation in college
athletics, apart from scholarships. However these infractions are
happening quite frequently.
I see this matter in terms of dollars and cents rather than ethics. Some
college sports departments are huge money-making enterprises. Football
(and to a lesser extent, basketball) programs bring in a lot of money
for their institutions. This revenue comes from ticket sales, alumni
donations, corporate sponsorship, broadcasting rights, apparel
licensing, scheduling, etc.
The true source of this revenue is of course the student athletes. They
are the stars of the show. And for some star players in some big-time
programs, the amount of revenue generated far exceeds the value of an
athletic scholarship. But money has a way of finding its way to these
athletes at any rate. This is of course contrary to NCAA rules and the
ideal of amateur athletics. But instead of endless investigations and
sanctions, I would like to propose another way.
College football players should organize a union. In so doing thy could
negotiate compensation, health and disability insurance, licensing
rights, revenue sharing, and the whole nine yards with their schools. By
forming a union and getting paid, the players could effectively end the
plague of ethics violations by making it no crime for the money to go
where it is deserved.
I'll suggest a name for the hypothetical union: The Collegiate Athletic
Labor Federation (CALF).
Now what's that I hear my reader saying? College athletics should remain
amateur? I happen to agree. But I do not see how college football
programs are going to be convinced to de-escalate their revenue streams.
Unless they do, money will continue to find its way into the pockets of