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March ‘Madness’ is Amplified Because Players Aren’t Paid

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Photo: interbasket.net

And so, the madness begins. Eleven months ago, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of amateur college sports in the United States, got another boatload of new television money that seems more or less to be guaranteed through the year 2032.

College or university presidents, chancellors and board of trustees that run the group, get the money for the organization and at some point, that television money for just the men’s college basketball tournament will be around $1.1 billion annually. The cash is made off of the backs of the players who – as the stars of the TV show known as March Madness – get no money for their work as entertainers.

But wait. The people in the Ivory Towers calling the shots are thinking about allowing some players to cash in on their names and get endorsement money, which would act as some cover in an effort to compensate football and basketball stars at every school.

As far as gimmicks to pay some players, who would decide who gets paid? The NCAA or corporate partners? Would someone like Phil Knight and NIKE decide who should get paid?

It is people like Knight who start targeting sixth and seventh graders for basketball camps, the sneaker camps where 12- and 13-year-olds are pushed into some sneaker program that eventually gets them into a school whose coach happens to be marketing partner with the sneaker company.

The NCAA is facing challenges because the group is sticking to a pretense of “college kids should be amateurs” and not paid while billions of dollars flow into the system. A scholarship is enough compensation for the players. But everyone else makes money and the presidents, chancellors and trustees are fine with the free market as long as they can control the players in a one-sided scholarship agreement that favors the NCAA. It’s madness.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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