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College athletes should organize

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 the players.

Lay off Mr. Bonds

[caption id="attachment_519" align="alignright" width="226" caption="Photo by Jim Accordino"][Barry Bonds][][/caption]

I never cared for Barry Bonds. He was simply not likable as a baseball player, in spite of his prowess on the field. Plus he played for the Giants, so as I Dodger fan I had no choice but to spurn him. Nonetheless I find myself agreeing with people who think that the ongoing perjury case against Bonds is foolish.

Perjury oft seems to be the recourse of prosecutors who could not make a proper case. I doubt that most perjury cases are pursued in the interest of truth and justice. It's sour grapes. So I always feel bad for someone when the government is going after them for supposedly lying in the course of an investigation, when the investigation itself was fruitless.

This particular case is abundantly silly. The subject is not a matter of grave importance to the state. Rather, it is about the use of drugs in pro sports. Is that what federal prosecutors are going to the mat over? I suppose it will serve as a cautionary tale: "Attention aspiring pro athletes of America! Do not lie about your performance-enhancing drug use to a federal grand jury. Or else!" Or something like that. Let's just drop the case and move on.

I, for one, think Barry Bonds deserves to be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. (That may be the most difficult sentence I have ever typed.) Even before he bulked up and starting smashing homerun records, he was one of the great players of the game. And I do not hold the steroid use against him. He was just the highest profile case at the end of the steroid era in baseball. So many players used, it is not really even worth talking about a single athlete.

Let Barry Bonds enjoy his legacy (if possible). His alleged steroid use just be punished with a second-ballot entry to the Hall of Fame, not with a felony. As for us fans who disliked him so, we can relish the fact that he never managed to win a World Series.

[Barry Bonds]: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jimmyack205/3383404417/

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Category: κτλ Tags: sports

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