WRD 104, Prof. Finstrom
Pay to Play
“Intercollegiate athletics have been a part of the university system for many years. Successful athletic programs are a way of instilling pride in the student body, and bringing prestige, name recognition, and funding to the university” (Murphy). The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was founded in 1910, and was originally founded as a discussion group as well as a rules making body (Who We Are). The NCAA still makes the rules that allow for fair competition but have greatly evolved since 1910. They are now primarily responsible for “safeguarding the well-being of student athletes” and helping these athletes succeed on and off the field/court (Who We Are). The NCAA is absolutely essential to college athletics not only for the rules but also organizing main events such as tournaments, national championships, etc. With the training and academic support services, the NCAA also gives out 2.7 billion dollars in athletic for students around the world and provides these athletes with access to medical care (What We Do). Although the NCAA provides billions in academic scholarships, they have made rules that prevent student athletes from receiving any further compensation, which by my definition is exploitation. This is an issue that should be important to most Americans because of the much bigger problem it represents: Student athletes are doing just about all the work and are with out a doubt the primary reason in which the NCAA is generating substantial revenues, yet as revenues increase every year student athletes are still left with unfair compensation. Many citizens and athletes alike are fighting for fair compensation not only for the student athlete’s sake, but the whole concept of receiving fair pay for hard work.
Regardless of the NCAA's stated purpose; the primary goal of many university athletic programs is to generate money . . . and a lot of it. The money generated and the ways in which it is administered, would likely qualify the NCAA itself as one of the commercial enterprises warned of in the NCAA Constitution. As college athletics have become more and more lucrative, majority of the time their significance overshadows the universities true academic purpose. The NCAA, conferences and universities license to networks (like CBS) the right to broadcast their live games in exchange for billions of dollars in annual rights fees without any question as to who constitutes the holders rights (Murphy). Hunter R. Rawlings III, president of the University of Iowa, has stated that "TV determines the times and sites of our games, controls our athletic departments' budgets, and dictates conference membership and realignments." (Murphy) Literally proving that athletic events are orchestrated by and for money. On top of direct revenue, successful college athletic programs use their name and logo to market their merchandise. Furthermore successful colleges and universities alike receive generous donations from alumni due to the programs notoriety or prestige. In the middle of all this money are the student athletes; they are restricted from having a share in the substantial revenues that they generate (Murphy).
In 1953, the NCAA lost the “University of Denver v. Nemeth” case, the court came to the verdict that “Ernest Nemeth, a football player at the University of Denver, was an ‘employee’ within the meaning of the Colorado workers’ compensation statute.” In turn, “the University was obligated to provide workers’ compensation for [Nemeth’s] football injuries.” (McCormick) After the ruling the NCAA coined the term “student athlete” This allowed them to classify these athletes true purpose as students, which ruled out the possibility of these athletes being identified as anything other than amateurs (McCormick). Over the many years that the NCAA has existed, they have been battling plenty of lawsuits over the exploitation of the college athlete.