July 22nd, 2010 at 11:50 PM ^

1.  Just because a situation is exploitative, or has the capacity to be exploitative, it does not mean that it is slavery or analogous to slavery.  In employment, education, and most kind of relationships, there is a give-and-take.

2.  For the argument that a "free college education" may not be the preferred compensation of a college athlete, Whitlock could have said that in a better way.  As someone who worked two part-time jobs to attend Michigan, I would have preferred a "free college education" as my compensation instead of an hourly salary (because I was barely able to make ends meet).  For someone who can sell millions of jerseys, they might want a different compensation arrangement, but everyone knows the rules before you start working and before you get your first paycheck/tuition bill covered.

3.  If players are being paid on the side, as Reggie Bush is alleged to have received improper benefits, then he would be getting paid both in college and in the pros and was not financially exploited.  Therefore, the Whitlock analogy is particularly ill-suited.  If the allegations are true, then Bush wasn't financially exploited, but was arguably paid what the market would bear for his services.  Again, if the Bush allegations were/are true, then it's possibile that Bush received the full economic benefit of his "share" of USC's success.

4.  If the argument is that Bush should be allowed to keep alleged improper benefits, his pro salary, and the MORAL HIGH GROUND, that's where I take issue.  Just because someone avoids being economically exploited, it does not necessarily follow that they are a great person or should be given a free pass for not following the rules, when some of his competitors voluntarily or involuntarily followed the rules.

5.  From a practical perspective, the only reason some of these players get "caught" is that they are not particularly discreet.  As such, the embarassment of media and NCAA scrutiny is a tax on the most indiscreet of those individuals.  A lack of discretion or foresight is the player's own responsibility.

6.  If the argument is that players should be able to collect a free college education, money on the side, and then be indignant when it is later exposed (at least by the NCAA)  that they did not allegedly follow the rules, then I just don't get it.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:10 PM ^

Whitlock mentions that, but then dismisses it because they players are "not prepared" to use the degree.  How inane is that counter-argument.


Also, he says that the money goes to other "welfare" sports, but those other atheletes don't share anything in common with BB anf FB players.  Is he trying to make some kind of point with that?  Is he saying that if they "hung out together" then the money going to other sports would be justified?


a $100K-$200K education that they have the potential to use (just like any other student), public adoration, a world of business connections and lifelong noteriety, chance to play in the NFL, etc...  Sounds pretty good.

On the other hand, aside from the top schools, many programs face money problems just paying to host a football team.  Does Whitlock think its okay for Eastern Michigan to not pay their players since they are not getting big money, but think Michigan should?  Is he talking about a profit-sharing plan with high-school kids?


And speaking of high school, why not cut them in on the action in the bigger states like Texas?  Hell, maybe middle-school kids pull money into schools too.  (Who cares about child-labor laws.)



The article is complete and utter sensationalism without factual support or a well-thought out approach.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:12 PM ^

"Bit of a stretch" was half sarcasm. To be fair, I think college athletes should be paid pennies out of whatever profits are made, However I highly doubt Kunta Kinte (pretending he was a real person) would ever have the chance of dating such a high profile hottie as Kim Kardashian while making millions for being a meh NFL player. I think we can assume the same for Toby Reynolds.


July 22nd, 2010 at 3:57 PM ^

Not at all, Norfolk Wolverine. Whitlock's point there is simply that the cash cows of college athletics support the non-cash cows. Basketball and football -- sports generally dominated by black athletes -- happen to be the cash cows. Not sure if many would argue with that reality. But he doesn't suggest that reality is cause to x those other sports.


July 22nd, 2010 at 6:45 PM ^

Basketball and football are only cash cows because of the university.  Without the university they would be second rate development leagues struggling to fill up high school stadiums.

When people write these articles they always ignore that the institution > players wrt the popularity of the team and the money made. 


July 22nd, 2010 at 3:54 PM ^

While I think he goes out on a few limbs with his analogies, I understand and agree with several of the points to be taken from Whitlock and Byers. I think this blog, and others like it, example the machine that is college athletics. This blog is comprised of diehard fans that are willing to spend money to support their teams, coaches, players and hell, potential players (ie. recruits). We know where the millions in revenues and profits go.


July 22nd, 2010 at 3:58 PM ^

Whitlock does realize that white players don't get to cash in either, right?  Bush knew the rules and he broke them because he was too greedy to wait to get paid.  I was at SC at the same time he was and I don't remember anyone chaining him to the hull of an old sailboat and dragging him to campus or threatening him with violence if he didn't play football.

Comparing pampered college athletes who freely choose to trade their physical skills for a free education, room/board, and the exposure that college football provides, with slaves is completely fucking ridiculous.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:04 PM ^

Agreed Purple Stuff. The clearer analogy would be that labor of colleage athletes bears fruit for the NCAA and member institutions the same way slave masters benefitted from the labor of slaves. You could further make the argument that the sufficiency of college tuition as payment for college athletes is equivalent to the slave master providing room and board to his slaves.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:14 PM ^

You make a college degree sound like some minor pittance.  If taken seriously, and capitalized on, it can have a major impact on the future quality of life of the individual.  It's a shame that so many college athletes don't seem to realize the possible value that education holds.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

That wasn't my intention. I value education. Education opens doors. But is the "possible value" of a college degree comparable to the millions made? The issue is not one of no value received but of how much value. Take Charles Woodson for instance. Can we say that the value of his degree was fair in light of the money made off of his services?


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:28 PM ^

When you look at the number of players involved, value each provides/receives, I agree it becomes an abstract and difficult thing to quantify.

Let's look at the concept in a non-athletic light.  During college I worked an internship without pay.  In fact, since I had to get credit for it, I was paying to do it.  However, it was a connection from my supervisor there that landed me a very good job once I graduated.  Was I a slave under this Whitlock construct?  In my mind I was paying my dues.  I'd rather have payed those dues playing a game I enjoy.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:32 PM ^

So I am not too sure why people are negging you.  I disagree on that point though as a very large percent of all college athletes provide no financial value to the school, but cost the school a scholarship and living expenses.

For every Charles Woodson there are 4 third stringers who will never see meaningful playing time.  So yes, some athletes (Chuck and Bush) in theory are getting screwed out of millions, but there are dozens on every team who are getting $100K worth of education + living expenses and providing $0 in return to the athletic department. 


You cant make the superstar argument without looking at the entire 85 man scholarship roster IMHO.


July 22nd, 2010 at 7:02 PM ^

JBrose49, lol, that's the way things work here. Like you, I try to understand a person's position/argument even if I don't agree...

But your point about third stringers vs. superstars is exactly why the argument is so difficult to make. Really, the value to the institution for third stringers is the contribution they make through star players. The third stringers give their services to ensure that the star players have bodies to practice against. Third stringers may also add value through injecting a competitive spirit in other teammates, despite their lack of 5-star talent. Otherwise, the value may come through each player's contribution to the school's brand.



July 22nd, 2010 at 4:33 PM ^

Are you saying players get paid a portion of what they bring in?  If 99% of the team doesn't make the NFL, then they shouldn't get paid becuase they got enough from the value of their degree?  The stars should get paid because they bring in so much more than their degree is worth?

Let's make it all merit-based then.... and kids who don't bring in enough cash to cover their degree have to PAY BACK the university (unless, according to Whitlock, they hang out with the star players).


Wow, how F*&%ed up is that idea of fair?



July 22nd, 2010 at 7:20 PM ^

PeterKlima, I definitely wouldn't make that argument. It would be impossible to assess what each individual player brings in. Your second point ignores the fact that a good player at the college level -- someone who brings value to his team and university -- could be overlooked by the NFL. Making the NFL is not a measure of a player’s value at the college level. I presented the Woodson example only to make the point that a player's financial contribution to a school can exceed the value of the school's contribution to the player by way of tuition, etc.

I honestly don't know the answers to whether college athletes should be paid and, if so, how much. A potential answer is to allot a certain percentage of profits to stipends for student-athletes. The amount each football player could receive could be determined by giving a certain amount for each game started and/or percentage of plays played. Such a formula would give starters a higher stipend than third stringers. However, I would be sure to give all players a stipend for the reasons stated in my above post (i.e. value added through star players, etc.).

Hell, another answer is to allow players to take money from whoever offers it as long as taking the money doesn't compromise the outcome of the game.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

You have got to be kidding.  You can dig all the way to China, but you won't find an apt analogy here.

These kids are voluntarily playing a sport, not being forced to pick cotton.  Moreover, they're doing it in exchange for a free education, the opportunity to travel around the country, national noteriety, and ridiculous networking opportunities.  If that's the new "room and board," sign me up.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

For me there is zero equivalency between forced-at-gunpoint slave labor and the free exchange that happens in college sports.  A more fitting analogy would be that the athlete's labor bears fruit in the same way any employee's labor does for his employer.  Whether or not Whitlock feels it is a fair exchange (you could argue tons of workers who aren't slaves are underpaid) the fact remains that kids aren't hesitating to take the deal (and if they didn't the line to take their place would be enormous).


July 22nd, 2010 at 6:51 PM ^

Whitlock's delivery is not the best way of stating his case, but I think that his message was to call out the hypocracy that  the coaches are not being held to the same principles as the athletes. There isn't a reason IMO to make a correlation to slaves and slave masters. When he said that some of these athletes aren't prepared to utilize the degrees that they receive, he wasn't lying. Countless athletes from all schools have thrown away their life and not used the education that they received. Not to mention the fact that some of these kids are taking classes that won't get them anywhere. They are just taking these classes just to get by.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:16 PM ^

... is that people who are voluntarily in a position where they are underpaid (just a $100K tuition) are slaves?


Are we all slaves?



July 22nd, 2010 at 4:25 PM ^

They certainly were "used" by their institutions.  I just don't see this being racial.  I am pretty sure college football stadiums were full in the early 60's when most teams fielded a very large majority of their teams (skill positions included) with white players.  the gate revenues were big then, I know there weren't big tv contracts, but money was being made.


But then again, what do I know?


Edit:  Is he saying that ALL revenue sports athletes are analagous to slaves?  I dunno, but I found some stats below online that may be of interest:

As of 2008, 46% of D1 football players were white and 46% were black...

As of 2008 35% of NFL players were white (so in a very routine stat analysis - based on this a black athlete is about 20% more likely to get in the NFL than a white athlete so they are 20% more likely to be big money makers for the NCAA). 

I have no idea if that is relevant, but I found it interesting


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:28 PM ^

You make a great point here.  Whitlock completely ignores that the institutions and the history/tradition of college football add a ton of the value to the equation.  A good SC team would have generated just as much (or close to it) revenue if Reggie Bush or any other particular player hadn't been on the team.  Nobody wants to watch some semi-pro league with guys right out of high school either. 

Michigan sold just as many tickets when Nick Sheridan was playing quarterback (a guy who wasn't even getting the scholarship Bush did) as they did when Chad Henne (a guy who could have easily had access to the kind of illicit agent funds Bush took) was playing.


July 22nd, 2010 at 4:42 PM ^

The thing is, it's a Whitlock article. He inserts racial overtones in nearly every article he writes. Not that there's anything wrong with that... it's just that his propensity to overuse the racial theme diminishes the times when race is indeed relevant. The result for me is that I take his stuff with a grain of salt. I wouldn't read it at all, except damn-it-all-to-hell I get too easily sucked in by a good headline. And I do find his stuff frequently entertaining, even if often ridiculous.