And so March Madness begins with the very important people, the selection committee sending student-athletes all over the country in the next week with the best possible matchups in mind for television purposes. It’s all about money, the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament is the engine that brings billions into college sports and the students-athletes earn their money this time of year as the road to the Final Four and Houston is ahead and the championship game. This is a fun time of year so the people doing sports talk radio tell you, the talking heads delivering sports news on TV tell you along with newspaper sports writers and bloggers as well as the NCAA corporate sponsors through television commercials. In fact, people will be working less on Thursday and Friday and streaming the Internet watching games between colleges that some watching might not even know exist featuring players that the viewers don’t know. But there is that betting angle, the brackets and filling out brackets and throwing a few dollars down for the fun of it.
So for the fun of it, let’s pose some questions. Aren’t the players students first and athletes second? If that is the case with college conference tournaments over the past week and with not only the NCAA going but the NIT as well, just when will these students go to class and will they go to class this week. After all, they are students first. Secondly, compensation. Since the real stars of the show, the players don’t get paid why not others forego paychecks such as coaches, assistant coaches, referees, athletic directors and the people in the Ivy tower. Everyone attached to the college basketball industry is getting paid but the students who are missing class for the tournament aren’t. Oh they get a scholarship but it doesn’t seem that the colleges look at the players as students, just people who can bring in money.
Republished with permission, Evan Weiner for the Politics of Sports Business.