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Another year of exploitation has come and gone

March Madness did it again. They produced a product that the general public consumed, along with the advertisements, at a ravenous pace; and I mean a lot of advertisements. In fact, March Madness brings in over $1 billion in ad revenue. The tournament makes more money than the Super Bowl. How is this possible? Watch a game and make a point to look for sponsors. If this were an Easter egg hunt, you would need to upgrade from an Easter basket to a shopping cart to hold all the small change, stale jellybeans and melting M&M’s.

Everything is sponsored. If the media had access to the locker room at all times, they would manage to sneak in choice bits such as: “This deodorant application is brought to you by Axe,” or “That clear sounding flush from the bathroom is only possible through Beats by Dre speakers.”

There is nothing wrong with a massive sporting event that makes a ton of money anyway they can. As we know, it happens all the time and generates countless jobs and revenue for the towns and cities they happen in; for example, Time magazine reported that the return of LeBron James to Cleveland would be worth around $500 million for the city; however, there is something wrong with the players never seeing any of this money.

Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA has no plans to change this, and seems irritated at the very mention of paying his organization’s most lucrative employees. Over and over he repeats himself with annoyance, “They are student athletes.” For most college athletes, he’s right. The majority of athletes in college will not create much revenue for their establishment. I can’t speak for every university in the nation, but I’ve never been invited to a tailgate party for the Washington State rowing team, or stood in line for a track and field ticket.

The problem is that there is a small group of athletes who do make a lot of money for the NCAA but never see a single penny. The idea of paying college athletes is so broad and so loaded; it would take a column much bigger than this to even attempt to cover. That is not the point of this column though; this column is about how terrible the NCAA institution is. I want to present an idea… not a demand, not even a suggestion, just an idea. Terminate the NCAA.

I know how crazy that sounds. College football is arguably the second biggest sport in the U.S. behind professional football and it is well established how popular March Madness basketball is; however, colleges should not be a place where late-teen athletes go to be worshipped for their athletic talent, but rather a place where higher education always comes first.

The NCAA (they might want to change the name) can instead become a private enterprise that focuses on the development of athletes both physically and mentally. As part of this new development program, accepted applicants would develop the skills required to excel in their chosen field (pun intended), while being taught valuable financial and interpersonal skills.

I like the sound of this, but I dislike like the other sound I’m hearing: silence. That is the sound of it never happening. Instead, prima donna athletes will continue to enroll in school for the least amount of time possible, to fulfill the least amount of requirements for a “student-athlete.” They will fill their class schedule with cereal history (was Captain Crunch actually a captain?) or maybe Dr. Seuss as literature. The rich will become richer; the poor student will stay poor.

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