Better Alternatives for Young Athletes

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The sports attorney who represents New England quarterback Tom Brady is delivering a long-overdue challenge to the exploitative and hypocritical business model of college sports, in the form of a developmental football league:

In the same column, which, in retrospect, now stands as a guidebook for his current mission, [Don] Yee called for the development of "football corporations" that would bid on the rights to operate college football programs, rather than the universities doing it. He forecasted the eventual elimination of the NCAA, leaving schools to concentrate on education, while the football companies handled the big-business of college football.

Almost a decade later, Yee and his team are bringing these ideas to life with a semi-professional football league that will offer college-age athletes a choice they've never had before: either go to school, where you are forced to attend class and make grades, all while essentially living life as a minor-pro football player without getting paid; or join this new league, earn a salary and benefits, and learn how they really live and play ball at the NFL level.

"They're being offered a place to go to get better at their craft," Yee told the Daily News. "However, Pacific Pro Football will also encourage them to think about their path in life outside of football." [link added, format edits]
I have long advocated separation of state and economy, and thought in particular that both professional athletics and higher education would benefit from more capitalistic arrangements. Although Yee is not, to my knowledge, a consistent advocate of capitalism, his proposals would help reduce the institutionalized entanglement of two industries, education and professional sports, with each other and with the government.

It is noteworthy here, too, that, as Yee's column (linked in the excerpt above) and a subsequent piece indicate, this new business model would be in the best interests of all involved, including the players. Indeed, this second piece reminds me of the title of a pamphlet by George Reisman, Capitalism: The Cure for Racism, given the large share of black athletes so poorly compensated by the current development system. I hope Yee's idea proves successful, so that there are superior alternatives to the current system for college students and athletes alike in the near future.

-- CAV

P.S. I can't resist noting a happy by-product of Yee's proposal to pay college-aged athletes, from Point Ten of his 2010 editorial, "Finally, this system would end the tiresome sports media discussions of whether this player or that player was paid." [italics in original] Yes. Please! Let's do this!


Anonymous said...

This is an interesting development. I find the NCAA to be the biggest con going. I actually did a Toastmasters speech about the NCAA. It was Persuading with Power section of the program. The goal of the speech was to show the swindle that is the NCAA and how athlete should be paid since everyone else is benefiting financially. And that sports fans should stop watching NCAA sports. The term "student-athlete" has no legal basis. From my research the reason why the NCAA was able to use the term student-athletes was because the universities did not want to pay worker's compensation from the inevitable injuries that occurred. One case in particular from the early 60's set the precedent which designated students who play sports as "student-athletes". All because the university did not want to pay injury compensation.

I also found out the scholarships these athletes receive are literally below the federal poverty level. Is it any wonder athletes take money from boosters, yet are punished for it!! The whole enterprise is corrupt; and leads to all kinds of moral problems for many of the athletes and the schools. I always believed there should be private sports clubs that are not affiliated with colleges/universities. College is for academics not sports.

Bookish Babe

Gus Van Horn said...


That's interesting to learn, and not terribly surprising, given how altruistic the "ideal" of the "student-athlete" is.


Dinwar said...

Bookish Babe's comments address the athletic side. I spent a few years in the athletic department "tutoring" system, and my perception of the academic side is that it's even more of a con. Universities routinely refuse to allow academic integrity to interfere with athletics. There's some token lip service paid to getting these students to pass on merit, but at the end of the day all that really matters is athletics. They'd sit in for a session or two (of Geology 101: Rocks for Jocks!!) and demand they pass the class.

That's without getting into the issues involved with finances. Science departments have to beg for new equipment, while athletic teams get multi-million dollar stadiums; funds are funneled to the athletic departments through a surprising number of channels; teams are sent all over the country, while students giving talks at conferences have to pay out of pocket; and so on. I recall one weekend being told I had no "school spirit" because I wasn't attending a random football game. The reason? I was giving a talk that had implications for relations between the US and Canada.

That link is to an interesting article (by a retired geology professor) about stupidity in athletics. The entire site is interesting (please note "interesting" does not mean "I agree with all of it").

I've got no problem with college athletics. I played intermural sports, and did some European martial arts both inside and outside the university while in college; physical well-being is vital to mental well-being, and sports are a great way to achieve that. But in my opinion the formal, essentially professional sports establishment we have in the university system is horrendously broken and doing a gross and negligent disservice to the athletes it chews up and spits out.

Gus Van Horn said...


Yes. The whole game of everyone pretending some of the athletes are being educated is truly sickening both because it is obviously a sham, and because serious students are being cheated.