Monday, April 7, 2014

3 comments Don't Worry Anymore, Jay Mariotti Has Figured Out How to Pay College Athletes

Jay Mariotti is full of bad ideas. Today is no different. Many people think that college athletes should be paid, other people don't think college athletes should be paid and then really smart people think the NCAA should adopt the Olympic model (hey, that's me!) for how college athletes can pursue endorsements if they choose to. Well, Jay Mariotti has a completely different idea that also manages to completely miss the point and also not seem effective at the same time. It's not often an idea misses the point and is ineffective at the same time, so this is a truly special day. See, Jay thinks instead of paying athletes to compensate them for what income they bring in to universities the NCAA should pay the athlete's insurance and pay for their education as well. I'm pretty sure colleges already pay for a student's education as it is and colleges also have athletic insurance, but stop short of actually paying for the medical care of athletes once they are out of college. I think this is a pretty shitty idea.

If I hear another conveniently clueless person say that college basketball and football players should be compensated,

I don't understand. What does "conveniently clueless" mean in this case? Why would someone be "conveniently" clueless? I feel like Jay is throwing a random adverb in front of clueless without actually thinking about what's he writing.

I’m going to lock that person in a room with Dick Vitale, Lee Corso and Lee Corso’s mascot heads and see who gets hurt first.

It's better than grabbing someone's hair when they are acting up. See ladies, Jay isn't a violent person at all. He was framed. Now get in that closet.

Don’t these people understand? Players ARE being compensated.

In my opinion, this is like saying a person earning minimum wage while working at Microsoft is justly compensated. Just because this person is compensated doesn't mean he/she doesn't deserve a raise. There is a difference in being compensated and being fairly compensated.

In exchange for their time, they receive a free education worth upwards of $300,000 if they care about staying all four years. They also receive a regularly televised resume of their talents, something the science major and English major never will have.

While I do understand the gist of this argument, compensating college athletes is more about attempting to achieve some sort of equability in regard to how much money the NCAA makes off college sports, as well due to the fact the NCAA continues to use an athlete's image without his/her consent after he/she has left college. 

They also meet influential alumni and business leaders who can help them later in life, a schmooze perk unavailable to other students. They also live in comfortable-to-luxurious residence villages and train in state-of-the-art facilities. They are accorded the gift of all-expenses-paid travel, often to dreamy destinations for bowl games and holiday tournaments, and experience the world in ways other students cannot. Don’t tell me athletes aren’t being compensated.

This is pretty vague and generic. I'm not entirely sure exactly what Jay is getting at here without specific examples, but there are other students who live in nice housing and meet influential alumni through student organizations they work with. Student-athletes aren't the only ones get this benefit.

I personally favor the Olympic model of athlete compensation in college. I would have no issue if a college athlete used his name or sold his autograph to make a profit. I feel like this Olympic model (I had not ever called it that prior to hearing Jay Bilas use the term, but favored the idea) would work best for the NCAA because it would mean the athletes aren't being directly compensated by the university, but they still have a chance to earn some extra money to buy food for those luxurious residence villages they live in.

Do they qualify as actual employees, by pure definition of federal law? If an activist named Ramogi Huma wants to pursue that triumph so he can lead the charge to unionize college athletes, go for it, dude. In partnership with football players at Northwestern University, Huma won what could be remembered as a landmark ruling Wednesday by the National Labor Relations Board, which said scholarship football players at Northwestern should be considered employees and are allowed to form a union.

I feel like stating college athletes are part of a union brings up some interesting questions that I as a college athlete probably wouldn't want to sort through. For example, would college athletes strike and run the risk of not having a season at all? If so, how would this affect their scholarships? Plus, if they are employees of the university does that mean the university could have even more control over the things they say and post on social networks and does it mean they could be "fired" mid-season for poor performance? The Olympic model does bring it's own questions of course, but I think the less the NCAA gets involved with compensating athletes the better.

Ohr based his opinion on how Northwestern players are restricted and supposedly mistreated by requirements of the football program: They can’t miss practices and games to study, have to eat what they’re told, can’t buy a car, can’t live off campus and must dedicate 50 or 60 hours a week to football. 

He’s right. What he doesn’t acknowledge is that they’re being compensated for their commitment via a very valuable athletic scholarship and other unique advantages.

The scholarship is compensation but it's also a way that a school knows a certain player will be coming to their university. When Duke signs Jabari Parker they give him a scholarship, but they are glad to give him a scholarship because he could easily have gone to Michigan State and gotten a scholarship there. Duke knows if Parker chooses them and signs a letter of intent then he is committed to the university and they will pay for his school so that he will be a member of the basketball team. This is compensation, no doubt. The type of compensation I believe college athletes should receive is compensation above that to reflect the amount of money schools make off these athletes and how schools will use the image of these athletes to sell tickets or other merchandise. That's why I think allowing a guy like Parker make money through endorsements is a reasonable solution. What is not a reasonable solution is to the problem is simply stating athletes get a scholarship and allowing the NCAA to continue to profit off the image of athletes even after they have graduated from college.

And that those workweek hours set up many of them for lucrative professional careers. In college, I spent at least 50 hours a week at the campus newspaper. I wasn’t paid, but my dedication prepared me for internships, which led to a job at a big-market newspaper immediately out of school.

In college most students spend time doing work that leads them to the job they will eventually take in the real world. The difference is that if Jay Mariotti was offered $200,000 to work for a newspaper while he was a junior in college would he have stayed in school? Actually, that's a completely different part of amateur college athletics that Jay is wrong about.

I understand Jay worked hard and used his job at the school newspaper to get a better job out of college, but the university he chose to attend (which I assume is the University of Satan's Minions- Hell) wasn't making millions of dollars off of his writing while he was in college. The University of SM-H didn't sell his work to "Time" for $3,000 nor did the university use a picture of him in order to make money for the school, while not allowing Jay an opportunity to make money writing for another newspaper or magazine.

Of course, I wasn’t being used by a multi-billion-dollar machine that makes hideous sums for universities, the NCAA and TV networks — and doesn’t pay athletes a penny from that pot of gold.

And that's the point for why I think athletes should get a chance to make some money on the side off their name and fame. What's most frustrating is Jay seems to understand that universities make money off the backs of these students but he's simply not in favor of adjusting the method of compensation to something that makes sense.

Should they receive something from that pot when the NCAA brings in more than $900 million per year from tournament-related TV and ticket revenues while ESPN just pumped about $8 billion into the new (Naming Rights Available Here) College Football Playoff? Yes, they should. Should they receive more than the $2,000-per-athlete stipend proposed by NCAA president Mark Emmert? Yes, they should. Employees, student-mercenaries, whatever you wish to call them — they deserve more compensation when Louisville’s basketball program generated $39.5 million in 2012-13 and five others (Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Arizona) generated between $38 million and $25 million.

And here comes Jay's solution to this issue. It's convoluted AND doesn't really take care of the problem at hand.

I have the solution.

Jay has the solution. It's the solution that doesn't involve handing out a stipend to take care of any extraneous expenses nor does it attempt to fairly compensate an athlete for his image being used to make money for the school he/she attends.

Pay their medical expenses for injuries connected to their college careers, as long as necessary.
And continue to pay for their education — bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate degrees — as long as they prefer.

I feel like this is unnecessarily convoluted. There are quite a couple of issues that go along with paying the medical expenses for ex-athletes:

- How will it be determined an athlete suffered an injury during his/her college career? An athlete who played football or women's soccer in college, how do we know the later medical expenses are related to an injury suffered during college? If an athlete has dementia or ALS, how can it be proven this disease can be attributed to his/her athletic career? Don't think the NCAA isn't going to fight a ruling that an NFL quarterback suffered an injury during his collegiate career as opposed to suffering this injury during his NFL career. It's going to be very difficult to pinpoint exactly when an athlete suffered an injury or even if that injury was related to playing a sport during college.

-The NCAA will pay the medical expenses for injuries connected to an ex-athlete's college career, but what if the insurance the ex-athlete has will pay for a specialized or more aggressive treatment, but the NCAA will refuse to pay for this? Is the ex-athlete expected to choose between the treatment he/she wants and the treatment the NCAA is willing to pay for? This is a question many "normal" Americans face as well, but if paying for medical expenses is a benefit, then the ex-athlete should be able to choose the benefit he/she wishes, right? Otherwise, there could be issues where the NCAA says they aren't willing to pay for a treatment that the ex-athlete's doctor recommends and the ex-athlete's insurance will pay for. This would make Jay's solution feel pretty convoluted and difficult in a situation where it's supposed to be a benefit and easy.

I think it's a good idea for the NCAA to pay for the rest of an athlete's education. There are issues that would arise with this as well, but not nearly as many issues related to paying for an ex-athlete's medical expenses "as long as necessary." I'm not sure the NCAA should be in the medical insurance business though.

Then, everyone will pipe down about compensation.

Not at all. Few will pipe down because it doesn't take care of the immediate issue that some athletes need a stipend or some other fund that will allow them to spend money on food and other necessities. Also, the idea where the NCAA pays for medical expenses seems fairly convoluted to me in terms of determining the exact cause of an illness, whether it was in college sports or an illness simply caused by bad luck or genetics. This isn't the type of compensation for the immediate time, but compensation in the future, which isn't necessarily something that provides the benefit that student-athletes need.

Jay is missing the point. The point isn't that athletes want their medical expenses paid for, no matter what the attempts to unionize may claim, the athletes want fair compensation for the income they bring into the school.

If it takes a union to win these major concessions, fine. In theory, a unionized shop in college sports can’t work. What are the players going to do if they’re mad, pull a wildcat strike before a Duke-North Carolina basketball game?

This is a valid point, but I also think Jay's solution to the problem at hand won't work either. Pinpointing the exact cause of an illness can be difficult, much less pinpointing the exact time in which that illness or injury occurred. If I'm an ex-college athlete who ran track in college and I now need two knee replacement surgeries, was it my time in college that caused the injury or was it the fact I ran four times a week for 23 years after college? Jay's solution simply isn't viable.

Don’t they realize they’ll be weeded out of the program immediately the first time Mike Krzyzewski or Roy Williams smell a hint of activism?

While I tend to agree, I would be more worried about the university or athletic director not liking a certain hint of activism more than an individual coach wouldn't like it. Even now, athletes generally aren't activists, so I think this worry is overblown. Yes, Marcus Paige could be kicked off the team for supporting communists causes (not that he does support them...it's an example) as an employee of the school, but he could currently be asked to quiet down about the causes he supports now even as a non-employee.

The players need the built-in mechanism more than the mechanism needs them. There’s always another talented player for big programs to insert into the lineup, another shiny recruit to woo from a nearby major city.

Right, but if Roy Williams "fires" Marcus Paige nothing prevents him from joining Duke as their starting point guard. What Jay fails to recognize is these students are assets and are treated that way. There's always another recruit, but losing Marcus Paige is a big detriment to the UNC basketball team and "firing" him wouldn't be done lightly. Because they are treated like assets, these student-athletes aren't always as replaceable as Jay indicates they are, and this irrreplaceability (not sure that's a word, but it is now) is part of how colleges make income off that student-athlete.

Northwestern’s lawyers will appeal, naturally, and any realistic timeframe for a settlement remains far off. But never have the NCAA and its partners in crime been more vulnerable to the leverage of, ahem, student-athletes.

And of course the best way to use this leverage is to create a convoluted solution that doesn't immediately take care of the present financial issue that student-athletes face, which is cash flow during college and compensation for the use of their image. I don't believe the NCAA saying, "Don't worry, we'll pay for all of your injuries caused by playing the sport, just as long as you can prove they are injuries caused by the sport, at any point during your life. Also, you can go to grad school on us!" is sufficient compensation nor fixes the current problem of cash flow that student-athletes face.

Protect their futures. That’s all they want. That’s what they deserve.

Great idea, except if Jay has ever worked with an insurance company then he would know "protecting the future" of these student-athletes could result in bickering down the road resulting from a disagreement on whether an ex-athlete's injury was caused by playing collegiate sports and the proper method to be used to correct or treat the injury/illness. I have a hard time believing the NCAA will just blindly dish out cash to treat injuries or illnesses ex-athletes have suffered. An ex-athlete may end up bickering with the NCAA over the issues related to the payment of medical expenses.

And, yeah, the perks are cool, too.

One of the perks being a full scholarship which allows the athlete to attend school for free, but also serves as a way for a specific university to entice an athlete to that school. It works well until you start discussing more high-profile athletes who will be offered this scholarship no matter which college they choose to attend and then the university begins to market this athlete and receive income from the presence of the athlete at the school, while the athlete struggles to pay rent or can't afford to eat out at a restaurant. These types of things happen and paying for that athlete's medical care in the future or paying for grad school isn't going to correct this immediate problem. 

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

As much as the idea of college athletes unionizing seems repugnant, there is one point they have. And that’s with all these suggestions that people have (including Jay), they all say theirs is fair. If anything is decided, or has been, the players themselves have never had a say in it. Doesn’t it make sense that the players should have a seat at the table in determining any changes? And shouldn’t they be the primary ones that should be able to argue what is “fair compensation”. He makes the point that:

“Should they receive something from that pot when the NCAA brings in more than $900 million per year from tournament-related TV and ticket revenues while ESPN just pumped about $8 billion into the new (Naming Rights Available Here) College Football Playoff? Yes, they should. Should they receive more than the $2,000-per-athlete stipend proposed by NCAA president Mark Emmert? Yes, they should.”

So he’s taking the position that the players should receive something. And what that something is should be primarily argued by the players themselves. If that’s what a union would accomplish, seems reasonable. Otherwise it’s everyone else except the players who would be debating what is deserved.

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, that's an interesting point. My concern about unionizing are the secondary issues that go with forming a union. There are issues that unions face and I wonder if the players are unionizing to get a voice at the table, but not to necessarily go too far with the whole "employees of the college" thing.

I think that's where they want to go with it, in the direction of getting a voice at the table. I think that's fair too. What makes the current system seem unfair is college athletes aren't even given a voice nor are they given compensation outside of a scholarship. It's not that the NCAA won't pay them or allow them to make money off their image, they can't even discuss these issues with the NCAA.

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