The annual March Madness tournament has rolled around again making billions for the colleges, coaches and NCAA, but leaving the players unable to afford food
If you like to bet on sports in the US the chances are you’re already aware that March Madness is with us once again, the largest college basketball tournament getting underway on Tuesday, and, as ever, you can back your favorite team on Bet365 with but a few simple clicks of your internet. As one of the major gambling mainstays of the year it is expected that Americans alone will wager $9 billion on it, more than double wagered on the Super bowl.
Not that March Madness attracting money should surprise anyone, it is, after all, simply a massive exploitative money making scam in which a lot of young people are paid nothing to make greedy morally reprehensible middle-aged men very, very rich indeed. March Madness will make a billion dollars from sponsorship and TV deals, and for the sake of comparison it’s as well you understand that this is more than the entire NFL post-season put together including the Super Bowl.
NCAA Exploit March Madness
• $9 million to be wagered on tournament
• Coaches & Colleges earn millions
• Players get less than nothing
The NCAA, National Collegiate Athletic Association, which oversees the sport steadfastly stands against the concept of paying the players even a nominal sum – you know, to help them pay rent, eat food and have electricity in the house – claiming that the students are being repaid for their efforts with an education, that professionalizing college sports would ruin them, and that most colleges couldn’t afford to even if they wanted to, which, surprise-surprise, they don’t.
On the face of it these arguments don’t appear to be as spurious as they actually are. The constant parade of scandals in professional sports does make them appear less clean than the amateur game, and yes an education is a wonderful, valuable thing, and sure, on paper the not-for-profit college game doesn’t seem to have room in the budget for players to get a living allowance or similar. The thing is, however, it’s all a bunch of disingenuous bullshit.
Coaches Earn Millions, Players Go To Bed Hungry
“I don’t feel student athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars,” said NCAA star Shabazz Napier, in an interview last year, “but like I said, there are hungry nights that I got to bed and I’m starving.”
Just think about that for a moment, one of the kids that is helping the NCAA pull in over a billion dollars is going to bed hungry, you’d have thought someone would have done something, right? Bought him a sandwich at the very least? Not that anyone could because a free meal would be an infraction of the NCAA’s rules on rewards for players, rules which come, by the way in a 400+ page manual of instructions to which students must agree if they wish to play.
Admittedly the NCAA have relaxed the rules a bit of late, on food at least, but as for the core of the problem? That remains, and remains propped up by a horrible neo-plantation attitude where young athletes are farmed for their skills at no cost to make obscene amounts for the colleges. The NCAA will tell you that colleges don’t make a profit on their sports, but then avoiding making a profit isn’t very difficult, just spend more money, something the colleges do with abandon.
The ten largest stadiums in America belong to colleges and their opulent facilities often clearly demonstrate where the money went, but that’s not nearly as disgusting as the wages paid to coaches which literally extends into millions of dollars a year, with one signing a 7 year deal worth over $56 million. So the middle aged coach screaming on the sidelines at no risk of anything more serious than a hoarse throat is earning millions, and the kids actually playing the game? They get nothing. Zero. Bupkis.
Of course the NCAA claims to be educating these athletes in return for their skills on the court, but then they’re probably gambling news of just what that ‘education’ entails hasn’t reached you yet. With all the demands on their time made by the sporting endeavors of their college many struggle to maintain a good GPA, but colleges regularly get around this by enrolling players in “paper” courses where high marks are guaranteed and they get to study useful skills such as Swahili.
Student Athletes Given Fake Courses
This funneling of college athletes into faux courses so they can play is nothing new, but it does rather make a mockery out of the idea that somehow these college athletes are getting a fair deal. They don’t get paid anything, so the guy selling souvenirs at the game is making more than they are, the education they’re supposedly getting is a farce or worse, and the colleges are making enough to build massive overly equipped stadiums and pay the coaches millions.
Unfair doesn’t really do it justice, does it? Naturally some argue that the athletes themselves will all go on to be professional stars paid huge quantities week-in-week-out themselves, but that’s actually not true with less than 2% of college players, in either basketball or football, going on to play in the major leagues. So in the end the NCAA and the colleges are exploiting young college athletes to make massive amounts of money and they simply don’t care that it’s wrong.
John Oliver, on his show, “Last Week Tonight” showed some of the many occasions on which Mark Emmert, creepy criminal-esque President of the NCAA, repeats the mantra “they’re not employees – they’re students”, to which Oliver commented how the only people who ever say “they’re not employees” that often is someone operating an illegal sweatshop out of their basement. Of course illegal sweatshop owners and the president of the NCAA are manifestly different – Mark Emmert earns lots more.
US gambling laws in some states allow you to wager on March Madness, and estimates say maybe 70 million Americans will, thus perpetuating the enshrining of this as one of the biggest sporting events of the year, but like the games in the roman arena this is just betting on which slaves will do best, and whether you call them “student athletes” or “gladiators” makes no difference, they’re still not getting paid whilst those feeding off their skills and talents get richer and richer. The madness is not the flurry of games, but the disgusting, exploitative nature of the college game itself.