With all of the upsets and so-called best games played in the last 20 years, the NCAA basketball tournament has lived up to, and in my opinion, exceeded all expectations.
Even though, I join the thousands whose brackets deserve to be folded up and quietly tucked away in a back pocket as if they never existed, my eyes have remained glued to all the coverage of the tournament.
Due to the fact that a business-minded father raised me, I have been trained to be aware of and acknowledge the monetary gains the tournament has generated.
These capitalizing traits can be broken down like a food chain.
First, a plethora of companies and products have reserved time slots with large amounts of money to promote their merchandise to millions of viewers from many demographics.
Who is the transmitter of these messages of appeal that reaps the benefits of a company’s promotion budget?
They make millions of dollars with these companies, but they also have a way of spending that money to make even more. This is possible by obtaining the rights as the exclusive home of the Final Four. Meaning you won’t be able to catch that special Cinderella team’s ride to the championship unfold anywhere else on TV.
No other option to watch the tournament live equals more viewers, which leads to more money from the higher ratings.
There’s only one organization that can allow the one-station deal to happen: the NCAA.
The business that comes in between all of these contracts and deals may escape me, but I know the NCAA has to be coming out on top of all of this. The total has to be reaching in the multi-millions. That’s major cheese.
Which leads to my next point. Where is all this money going? I know for sure where it’s not going and that’s to the ones earning all the money for them.
They are the players fighting through physical pick-and-rolls and stepping to the line at critical points of the game to shoot free throws. Sure, no pressure. Just you, the basket and the eyes of America.
Oh, I did mention these are college-aged players, right?
The rule is college athletes have to maintain an amateur status to compete in the NCAA.
An amateur athlete cannot receive funding or compensation through gifts for his or her participation and competition on a team from anyone.
The biggest enemies to this rule are the boosters at several athletic powerhouses. The boosters insist on “taking care” of their star. This problem has plagued some of the most successful collegiate names including Ohio State’s Maurice Clarrett and former Michigan and current Philadelphia 76er Chris Webber.
The consequences of violating this rule includes losing amateur status and losing eligibility to compete in the NCAA.
What is the solution to this problem?
It’s simply. Do away with players having to get money under the table by paying the players upfront. I’m left to assume that all of the NCAA officials get a cut of the proceeds. It’s only right to share the wealth with those who rightfully earn it.
Another way college athletes have resorted to getting money is being set up with phantom jobs that don’t require their work or presence to get paid.
These kinds of jobs are frowned upon by the NCAA. I say pay them the right way for what they give a great portion of their time and energy to: athletics.
College athletes are a special kind. Much is demanded of them, both in the classroom and as competitors.
There is hardly a free moment with class, homework, practice, travel and games taking up most of their time. Some may ask why pay them when their room, board, tuition and books are paid for. While this may be true in some situations, consider the scenario of the talented athlete from the gutter.
He doesn’t have the talent to jump straight to the league to support his family that has fallen on hard financial times. Instead, he’s recruited to play in college, with no pay yet with the opportunity to attend school for free.
There obviously needs to be some line of order or we would have freshmen complaining that they are getting paid less than the others. Or that one player is making more than any one else on the team. The money that the players would receive would be distributed only on a need basis. The salary could be in the range of a $1,000 per semester, making it similar to a regular scholarship.
Remember now, the NCAA has the money to do something like this. The tournament alone is bringing in enough to make at least a few conferences and its players happier people.
Money makes the world go round. If you’re making money for a major organization like the NCAA, you should at least get a piece of the pie as well.
LeMont Calloway is a junior newspaper journalism student from Chicago. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.