20 September 2011

Taylor Branch - The Shame of College Sports

So... this is a long article, but it's definitely, definitely worth the read if you've got even the slightest interest in college athletics, the NCAA, or the United States' educational system.

I'll confess to a certain personal attachment here, since the NCAA's current capo (or "president") is also the former CEO of the university at which I currently study and work.

From early in the essay:

“Why,” asked Bryce Jordan, the president emeritus of Penn State, “should a university be an advertising medium for your industry?”

Vaccaro did not blink. “They shouldn’t, sir,” he replied. “You sold your souls, and you’re going to continue selling them. You can be very moral and righteous in asking me that question, sir,” Vaccaro added with irrepressible good cheer, “but there’s not one of you in this room that’s going to turn down any of our money. You’re going to take it. I can only offer it.”

Branch, in this article, does a stellar job of laying out the history of the NCAA's battle for profit. In all, or at least a lot, of its sordid detail. Disinterest in the welfare of players - the term "student-athlete" originated as a way to deny worker's compensation claims - is only the top layer.

Now, I love me some college sports. My autumn Saturdays for as long as I can remember have been defined by NCAA football, I've participated in more than one March Madness [tm] pool (sorry, Neuheisel), and, heck, I wrote about them (albeit at a smallish D-1 school) through most of undergrad. But this article, coupled with continual evidence of the venality and inhumanity of the NCAA, is enough to make me a little unsettled the next time I settle in with a plate of wings and an IPA.

No comments: