A University of Florida football player tweeted that the SEC makes so much money off of football that it amounts to a “modern form of slavery”. I won’t give his name, though many of you already know it. He has already stated that it was a poor choice of words. Indeed. I’ve actually heard professional athletes claim that the leagues THEY were paid millions to play in were nothing but indentured slavery. Clearly, our education system has failed if this many people think you get paid and/or a free college education as a slave. None of you are slaves, idiots. I’m thinking we need to take a lot of Americans on tours to places in Africa or Asia where slavery still exists so they can see what it actually looks like.
But, I digress. In reality, I get what the Gator player was saying. At face value, it seems like the SEC schools are making a lot of money off of football and it is unfair that they do not share it with the players. And there is some truth to that. However, I am yet again going to point out that four years of tuition, books, room and board and a stipend at a major university is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The argument is that a lot of these young men don’t WANT a college education, they’d rather have the money. Too bad, the education is the compensation for playing college football. If you aren’t interested, don’t participate. Go play in the Canadian football league or arena football. Neither has the NFL requirement of being out of high school for three years. What’s that? Those two do not showcase your talents to the NFL like college football does? Well, that my friends is ANOTHER form of compensation for playing collegiate football.
Forget what’s “fair” or “unfair”. That is one of the dumbest terms in the English language. Nothing in life is fair. To quote Rick Neuheisel, “Fair” is where they give a blue ribbon to a pig. Here’s a news flash, the vast majority of people do not think their situation is fair. It is probably not fair that football pays the way for nearly every other collegiate sport, but it is reality. And it is a reality that isn’t going to change. Which brings me to the next aspect of this situation.
Yes, the SEC takes in a lot of money, but you are looking at the top of the mountain. Conference USA and the WAC are not raking in that kind of cash. No cable or satellite TV company is paying ESPN to get access to the Conference USA Network. Yet, whatever rules or changes you make for the SEC will have to apply to these other schools too. If not, the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” become even greater. What’s that term all these “fair” advocates keep saying? Oh yeah, “income equality”. If we are aiming for fair here, then those schools have to be on a level playing field. Or, are the players at elite programs ONLY concerned with what is in it for them? And then how does this “fair sharing” of the money generated going to be distributed? Is the third string kicker who never sets foot on the field during a game going to get the same pay as the starting left tackle? And how does paying football players but not paying women volleyball players fit into Title IX laws? You see, this is a Pandora’s Box.
More importantly, how does this affect college football in the long term? If you make college football a professional league I promise you that nearly instantly some schools will shut down their football programs. Universities that are barely breaking even on athletics to begin with, and there are many of them, will just stop participating. They will claim to be taking the high road and refusing to let amateur athletics become professional but the basis for the decision will be money. Eventually, and I doubt it will take long, only the power conferences will still be fielding football teams. Other schools will go back to intramural sports. Even then, with all of the money that comes into the program, a huge chunk of academia will be calling for the end of collegiate football. They already are in most schools based simply on the fact that a football coach makes more money than a professor. Maybe the universities that make the most money will refuse to give up the cash cow but the pressure to do so will be great. Ten years from now, the number of opportunities for young men to escape their lot in life and get an education will have been drastically reduced if not gone altogether. Universities will eventually opt out of being a part of a professional minor league. Without the ties and fan loyalties of the schools, this minor league football will immediately lose its popularity. Nobody is going to watch the Orlando Gators play the Birmingham Crimson Tide. Right now, the players are put in an environment where they not only get an education if they are willing to work for it, but they also get immersed into a group of people outside their neighborhood. They get the chance to learn how much more there is to life In a professional minor league, they will scratch and claw for a few years at a wage that will not make them rich. Then the majority of them which will not make the jump to the NFL will go back to their home neighborhood, broke and uneducated. Nor will they have the college affiliation to parlay into a job selling insurance. You will have effectively killed the goose that has been laying the golden eggs.