The NCAA: Who are the Real Victims Here?

It’s time to get on that high horse and yell “Cheater” at the top of your lungs.

The question is who is actually being cheated?  According to the FBI and NCAA, the institutions are being defrauded by those seeking to illegally break NCAA amateurism rules that the institutions put into place so that they could profit off the likeness and efforts of young men and women.  The exchange is a free “education” for student-athletes labor and so-called “networks” of benefactor alumni, it does not work this way.  Instead, the status quo is something far more awful and even for some deadly.  The NCAA is a corrupt racket that is inherently broken and will remain this way as long as those profiting continue to do so.

College Basketball is an Easy Target as far as Optics

It’s easy to go after College Basketball players, not because of the contacts that they have, but because of politics and money.  College Basketball players are predominantly from urban or suburban areas outside of major cities and this naturally carries a negative perception for older generations.  It is less about enforcing NCAA rules and more about reinforcing and excusing biases.

What’s most important is sadly the reaction to the investigation rather than the cause of the investigation.   The reaction to the investigation will be a lot of talk and action that intends to uphold the currently untenable system.  Simply by making the matter about “Cheating” and “Dirtiness”, an individual is validating the current system.  It’s “dirty” because the people who are involved are not the people that the people reading about it like.   It’s like the following formula:  “Bots + Political Views I Don’t Like = Proof I’m Right”.

However, the money received is to ensure that they can eat, pay for something really simple or help their family.  However, it is perceived much differently from the outside looking in.  AAU coaches are predominantly Black, which makes it easy to smear for those unconnected and prejudiced.

It’s uglier in College Football and it is taboo to even broach this subject because it is so culturally important. The backgrounds of the student-athletes are not only uncomfortable, but they force society at-large to acknowledge the constant economic depression that exists in the areas that produce the most Football Players.  It gets worse with College Football as the money involved is larger and the institutions are often protected entities on a political basis.  This article is about this controversial subject.  Who are the real victims and who are the most exploited?

College Hockey does not have this problem and student-athletes are allowed to have agents.  Why?

A Lottery Ticket Straight out of The Twilight Zone

Before 1865, slavery existed in the United States and the vast majority of slaves were Black.  Yes, there were Mexican slaves in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.  There were a handful of Italian and Irish slaves, but they were the exception to the norm.  Women slowly on a state-by-state basis were gaining more rights to undo chattel laws and have the right to own and control property along with entering into professions in the 19th century.

As an institution, slavery has existed since the beginning of Human Civilization.  Slavery exists today in Mauritania, Chad, Niger, China, Cambodia, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Qatar, India, Haiti, Eritrea and Bangladesh.  There’s a whole nation that operates on slavery, North Korea.  Slavery knows no color nor creed.  It’s an evil institution that in Western Civilization many forget still exists.

Even in the United States, there are children being used for sex trafficking – this is slavery and it is evil.  FBI resources should be addressing these issues, but instead choose to protect and uphold institutions that exploit too.  The member institutions of the NCAA give the authority to the NCAA to be exploitative as well.  Is it on the same level as child sex trafficking?  Likely not, but there are some grave after-effects of the environment that the NCAA fosters.  Far too many agree with the NCAA’s assertion that the 13th Amendment does not apply to student-athletes because they are voluntary prisoners.

In the inner cities, there are still networks, safety nets and opportunities even though far too many fall behind (Baltimore, Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, San Francisco, Memphis, Newark, Camden, Atlantic City, St. Louis).  These inner cities gain the attention of the populace.  It’s easy for those outside of this background to label these people negatively.  On a nationwide basis, urban youth are not necessarily playing Football, they are mostly playing Basketball.  The sacrifices to their well-being are far less due to the nature of the sport, but the enormous time commitment and contributions still are uncompensated on the collegiate level, which is the wrong thing to do.  They are not the biggest losers in this whole amateurism scheme, which should not be terribly surprising.

The biggest losers in amateurism are the young men from impoverished backgrounds with substandard educations, broken families and residing in “country” areas of the Deep South and no prospects outside of what they could personally sacrifice on the Football Field so that their families could have a better life.  These young men come from areas that local politicians exploited to gain power and were segregated away into their own Pale of Settlement to have lives of perpetual poverty and struggle.  If these young men are lucky, they have two parents, but often they do not.  This is the part of America that the media and those in power want the public to forget, it’s the Black Belt.  Food deserts, substandard housing, single families, chronic economic depression, corruption, agricultural economies, strokes, heart attacks, morbid obesity, prosperity gospel and Football.  This is just life.  There are no 401(k)s or IRAs.  It’s a different sort of Hillbilly Elegy that goes unspoken.  Vacant lots and buildings, boarded up stores and the absence of civilization in swathes of this region.  Where there is civilization, there’s corruption and more vacancies.  The residents were left behind in The Great MigrationAll that is left is broken and the only hope is Football.

The sacrifices these young men from the Black Belt make to get out of their circumstances are tragic.  It should never be like this and while attention is given to small cities with industrial centers turned opium dens in the Rust Belt and New England, it’s harder to relate to this region for the general public.  Resorting to the physical labor and sacrificing their health and well-being like their forerunners at the pleasure of those who could never know or would not want to know their lives is the way out.

These young men are fed in order to serve an institution to entertain a good number of people who would otherwise not care about them.  They enter into the Colosseums of the South like the way Gladiators would and the audiences filled with blood lust and pride marvel in how these young men represent them.  As if they have a shared culture, which they absolutely do not.

The compensation offered for the way out to save themselves and their family is a scholarship to attend a college or university along with the food and housing associated with being on-campus.  However, everything comes with strings attached.  The majority of student-athletes in this region are granted special admissions since the vast majority attended substandard public schools and certainly would not have the qualification for admission like the regular student body.

The objective is to ensure that the student-athletes are:

  1. Eligible to play per NCAA rules.
  2. Take classes that do not interfere with practices and team travel.
  3. Not getting paid per NCAA rules.
  4. Have the proper nutrition that fits the requirements for the sport played.
  5. Meet strength and conditioning goals.
  6. Stay out of trouble.
  7. Presentable to the general public when they have an opportunity to speak.
  8. Stay healthy, but if they are injured or do not meet standards are replaceable.

The objective for University Athletic Programs is to win and the most revenue comes from Football.  What is done about it?

  1. Steer the student-athletes into “easy” majors.
  2. Steer the student-athletes into majors related to their skin color assuming they will do well enough to be eligible.
  3. Steer student-athletes into majors and classes that do not interfere with practices.  The athlete comes before the student, the student-athlete is there at the leisure and generosity of the benefactors.
  4. Giving student-athletes all of the academic support they can get to just clear through the classes and focus more on the sport that they compete.
  5. Rape is normalized and covered up to ensure that depth and top players are protected.
  6. Student-athletes have regimented schedules and diets and they will eat at the pleasure of the coaches to maximize performance.
  7. Their individual stories are to be heralded as uplifting stories rather than tales of exploitation, coaches are to be portrayed as saints.  “I believed in his ability and look at him now” is said by a coach doing the Bill Clinton squint, lip pucker and slow nod while uplifting instrumentals are played during a human interest feature on ESPN.
  8. Injuries and concussions are played through, which is what Toradol and questioning the manhood of a student-athlete is for.  The well-being of the student-athlete only matters within the context of their role on the field.  Once they are processed, they do not matter and their future issues are brushed off.

This all sets up for large “profits” to be redistributed to politically connected financial institutions and real estate/building developers.  Student-athletes get nothing and often fail to get degrees, those that do often have degrees that are completely useless.  Very few enter the professional sports ranks, but the majority do not.

If they played Football, they may experience headaches, heart conditions, mysterious mental illnesses,  threatening violence upon others and even engage in domestic violence against women.  They self-medicate and their conditions reach the point where premature death is common.  The cycle just keeps repeating.

The goal of reaching the NFL is like trying to win a Lottery Ticket straight out of The Twilight Zone.

Of course, these young men have a price.

They cannot be compensated and it is enforced by law.  The FBI is doing the NCAA’s bidding.  In the State of Georgia, compensating a student-athlete is illegal in the wake of the Todd Gurley signature controversy.  The power of coercion by the government is being used to uphold amateurism.  It’s disgusting.

However, desperate people do desperate things.  They make decisions even those that may arbitrarily be harmful to their future to ensure a present that does not bring upon doom.  Of course, there is a market for bag men to influence decisions and they are far more common than people realize.  Every program has student-athletes taking money and items under-the-table.  Nobody can blame these young men and their parents for wishing to better their own lives, they may be the few in this country actually looking to do that while everyone else lives in a crab bucket.  Good for these young men taking the money!

The NCAA and its member institutions have exploited the societal failings for their own enrichment and entertainment.  The NCAA would not be where they are without the student-athletes and there would be far less student-athletes if there were more opportunities out there.

Shaming the institutions that pay student-athletes and smearing the programs and the student-athletes is wrong, but it is the acceptable thing to do according to the current social norms.  The difference between ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ is just a matter of the skin color of the individual who is control of the distribution and receipt of money.

(In the case of UGA, Jim Harrick giving money and a television to a student-athlete was a good-hearted gesture.  There were two real problems:  A fraudulent class operated by his son and the fact that Jim Harrick sexually harassed a subordinate at the University of Rhode Island.)

Corruption comes when there’s no desire for reform

There’s no desire to change the status quo, there’s too much to lose for those in power.

In 2018, the ridiculous visual of multi-millionaire coaches in helicopters and limousines coming into areas with poverty rates of 30% or higher and median household incomes that are half of the national average is a bizarre norm.  It has a visual of a coach who is there to pull them out of the hellscape that they live in.  The local area is privileged to be graced by a College Football Head Coach for a few hours.

This country has depressed areas all over and three things are guaranteed to be there from Detroit and Chicago to Yazoo City and Moultrie.

  1. Pawn and Title Shops
  2. Corruption
  3. College Coaches

The NCAA and their member institutions do not wish to change their business model and they certainly do not care about their student-athletes, especially the ones who have so little and sacrifice their health and well-being for a slim opportunity at what would be considered The American Dream.

What’s the Right Thing?

From a political perspective, repealing the Todd Gurley Law in the State of Georgia would be a start.

From a College Athletics perspective, the exploitation has to end.  The NCAA has failed in their mission and the member institutions need to create an alternative.  The biggest victims of the fraud are the student-athletes who get phony degrees, injuries that last a lifetime and no compensation to show for it.  However, all student-athletes are being ripped off by the sham of amateurism for the purposes of enriching Athletic Directors and the elites.  The current morality as defined by the NCAA is immoral.

Allowing student-athletes to profit from their likeness, receive a minimum payout per month, immediate vesting into an investment portfolio that is not pooled, and the ability to choose their own major is the right thing to do by these critical representatives.  Instead of spending on a new facility or a lazy river, it’s time to care about the student-athletes.

Coaches need to step up for what is right and so do Athletic Directors, otherwise they are part of the problem and with an increasingly mobilized, activist populace… they’re next to feel the wrath of protests.