College sports are an enormous piece of the American popular culture, and with good reason. These young men and women are not only competing at some of the highest levels that their respective sports have ever seen, but they are doing so while juggling their education, the hormonal tumult of your late teens, and a myriad of ne’er-do-wells who would seek to take advantage of them.
And, for many high level college athletes, they may even have a part-time job thrown in the mix to cover their recreational expenses.
This combination of circumstances adds a layer of drama and grit to the NCAA sports programs that litter the nation, but they’ve also stirred a major debate among fans: Should college athletes be paid, or make money from their likeness in the form of merchandise sales?
The NCAA certainly doesn’t want to suddenly start paying their tens of thousands of athletes, but they seem to have no problem playing rappers like Kendrick Lamar hundreds of thousands of dollars to perform a 25 minute set during halftime of the BCS National Championship.
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Now, House Democrat Chris Murphy is taking a unique stand regarding the issue, speaking to Bleacher Report about the recent Zion Williamson debacle in which a broken shoe on the NCAA court moved billions of stock market value for sneaker giant Nike.
“I’ve been angry about this for a while. Zion’s injury and all the conversation around it prompted me to decide to finally put out this report that I’ve been noodling over for years. I couldn’t help but notice that this industry has gotten so big and so profitable in a really short period of time. I pay attention to the TV contracts that get signed. There’s no way around the fact that there are more and more people making millions of dollars off a sport that’s supposed to be amateur.
Zion was the breaking point for me. One kid slipping on the court caused Nike’s market valuation to drop a billion dollars. No amateur unpaid athlete—no amateur unpaid worker—should have that kind of impact on an industry.”
Now, here is Murphy’s real crux…
“The NCAA is a monopoly. It uses its monopoly powers super-effectively in order to make a small handful of adults super-rich at the expense of kids. It uses its monopoly power to keep the profits from the kids who are, by the way, largely black—in football and basketball—and enrich a small handful of adults who are, by the way, largely white. That’s why this is an issue of monopoly power and also an issue of civil rights.”
Murphy’s complaints mimic those of a crude episode of the satirical cartoon South Park, in which the NCAA was likened to slaveholders who reaped the profit from the athletes that they refuse to pay.
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