Should College Football Players Go on Strike?
Now that all of the sporting public has found out the result of the latest Game of the Century and Alabama has been crowned as national champion for big-boy college football for 2011 everyone can relax for a short time and get ready for recruiting day and then spring practice. Nick Saban and Les Miles, the coaches of last night’s combatants, can think about the prospect of perhaps renegotiating their contracts. Saban made some $4.93 million this season and Miles made “only” about $3.85 million. Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart may well receive a raise over the $750,000 he earned (before bonuses) this past season.
Some of the players on the two teams can look forward to possible pro football careers. Memorabilia sellers across the state of Alabama are almost giddy with prospect of selling merchandise celebrating what Crimson Tide fans claim is the school’s 14th national championship in football. Newspapers are busy preparing commemorative editions that they hope will boost ad and paper sales in the coming weeks.
The only people not basking in the financial glory of last night’s game are the players. NCAA rules stipulate that players in bowl games can receive gifts worth up to $500 for each player. The players also are housed and fed. Some of them collect mileage money and drive to the bowl sites and many of them pocket per diem expense money. In reality, however, none of them are paid for their services—at least not legally.
Rick Telander is a respected sports writer who has written for a number of publications, including Sports Illustrated. He recently wrote an opinion piece for the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper. In the article he points out that the outcry over the impact of money in college sports has been going on for almost 150 years.
It was in 1864 that Yale University hired a professional to coach its “amateur” men’s rowing team, thus setting the tone for the win at all costs mentality in college sports. In 1905 Harvard paid its football coach, Bill Reid, the unheard of sum of $7000. This was almost as much money as the school president earned and more than double what the average faculty member earned in annual income.
In 1929 the Carnegie Report on American College Athletics was issued. It state of the unfair, corrupt system of intercollegiate athletics, “If commercialized athletics don’t affect the educational quality of an institution, nothing does”. Telander’s take is that the impact of money and commerce on college athletics has always been present and it is never going away. He recommends that college athletes do whatever they can to get their fair share of the money. It is, after all, their abilities that allow schools to bring in the revenues that have created an athletics arms race on many of our college campuses.
Anyone interested in reading the entire article by Telander can find it by clicking on the following link: http://www.suntimes.com/sports/telander/9895004-452/college-football-players-need-to-go-on-strike-demand-piece-of-lucrative-pie.html.