The football players get their brains and bodies rattled — or maybe even ruined — while the coach collects an obscenely lavish salary, festooned with bonuses for various and sundry milestone “achievements.” The basketball team has some mild success and the coach gets every penny of a six-figure reward added to his already ample salary for his team getting to the fringe of the NCAA tournament. And the wrestling coach gets extra big bucks for one of his guys winning a national championship.
All the athletes get — at least above the board — is a free college education, which for most of them is a masquerade.
The world of big-time college sports has become a gigantic commercial empire. Atop this empire are the television networks (including the Big Ten Network), corporate sponsors such as Nike, a compliant NCAA, and, of course, the “non-profit” universities themselves.
What else but a racket would you call a thriving industry whose huge profits are derived almost entirely from the exploitation of young “amateurs” with stars in their eyes, too many of whom also are possessed by unattainable dreams of making big bucks playing or coaching?
It is feared that allowing college athletes to unionize will transform college sports into something totally different. But turning the whole business upside down may be just what’s needed to cleanse college athletics of its exploitive money changers.
Larry BladesIowa City