Sunday, August 21, 2011

Old South Slavery and Modern College Football

People who know me are well aware I do not keep up with professional or college sports.  In fact, I see much of it, especially football, as similar to the old gladiator fights of the Roman Empire in which testosterone-laden people exhibited their blood-thirstyness.  I am astounded that it has taken so long for the NFL and other leaders in all levels of football to FINALLY become aware that players can receive head injuries that devastate their lives and FINALLY intervent. 

Players have a hard time saying no to the money they receive for their participation.  Owners know there are plenty of other potential players, so, if someone gets hurt, there will be a replacement.  Fortunately, enough evidence of brain injuries is coming forth to make changes in equipment and observations of players.

As a person who promotes education, I despise seeing high school coaches make enormous pay while teachers receive much less and academic programs take the back burner to blood-and-guts football.

All that is said to emphasize I come to any discussion of football with a prejudice against it.  So please take what I say with a grain of salt.

What bothers me now comes from a recent conversation with my son, Rocky, who is a football expert.  In fact, he is an expert in almost all sports.  When Rocky was a kid and I let him come to the Shamrock Hilton in Houston (I played piano and sang in the lounge), he so impressed members of the LA Dodgers that I personally was told by some of the team members that Rocky knew more about their records than they did.  Even Steve Garvey came to meet this kid who knew so much.  And players were very happy to provide Rocky with free tickets to Dodger games when they came to Houston to play. 

I think people who play this Fantasy Football with Rocky also are well aware of his expertise.

So, what did he tell me that made me so angry? Simply, that college football teams make a lot of money from their football programs and are not allowed to give money to players.  So I looked up the 2010 stats.

UT grossed $93,942,815 and, after paying coaches salaries, for equipment, and for other expenses, they netted $68,830,484 in profit for the college.

U of Georgia grossed $70,838,539 and profit was $52,529,885.

Penn State grossed $70,208,584 and profit was $50,427,645.

Michigan grossed $63,189,417 and profit was $44,861,184.

And Florida (the school that I asked Rocky about because of recent news regarding illegal spending on players) grossed $68,715,750 and profit was $4,258,193. 

That is over $1 billion in profit from just those five colleges.

How does this relate to the old plantation owners, IN MY MIND?

I grew up in the Deep South, in Georgia.  The 1950s and 1960s were filled with us trying to figure out the Old South Slavery issue.  I personally marched for Civil Rights in the 1960s.  I made a point of making appointments with the pastors of various African-American churches to ask why all the fuss.  I attended services once at Dr. Martin Luther King's church.  I remember the pain in the eyes of the African American teenager who registered at Roosevelt High School, where I attended in Atlanta, when she was snubbed by so many students and spoken to by very few of us Anglo kids.

I believe in equal rights, the equality of all humans, and, like Dr. King, that we should look at character and not at skin color, gender, ableness, IQ, etc.

Also, a student of history, I'm very acquainted with (from various sources) life on plantations.  Slaves were African Americans and slave owners were Anglos. 

Slave owners gave slaves a place to sleep.
Slave owners gave slaves food to eat.
Slave owners provided tools for slaves to use.
Slave owners required work of the slaves and did not allow them to be educated, to learn to read or write, etc.
Slaves were not paid money, which would have given them freedom to buy what they wanted.
All financial benefit from the work of slaves went to slave owners.

In my opinion, how does this compare to College Football programs?

Colleges give scholarships to players (of all races), part of which is providing a place to sleep (called room, as in room and board).
Colleges give players scholarships, providing food to eat (called board, as in room and board).
Colleges give players equipment to use.
Colleges require players to work by performing on the football field, whether in practice or in games.
Colleges to not pay players money, although, if on scholarship, they do give them books and provide them with education. I don't have the stats on how many college football players are on scholarship (full or part) and how many pay for their own education.
All financial benefit goes to the colleges.

The only difference I see, and someone please correct me if I'm wrong, is that slaves were imprisoned in the system for life, whereas, colleges let go of students who are players, giving them the freedom to be where and do what they want for the remainder of their lives.  Certainly, this is better than the Old South.

But, what is NOT better, in my opinion, is that these young college football players, whether on scholarship or not, need money for cars, clothes, dates, etc., and are not given any pay by the college so they can avoid stepping into the clutches of the fans who circumvent the rules and provide them with things they need.  I understand one isn't even allowed to give a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a player.  I don't know if that is an extreme, but I did hear that stated.

The colleges tell us they don't pay players so that the field is even for all colleges.  In other words, the big high-monied colleges, if allowed to pay players, could pay more, thus encouraging players to come there and eliminating the better talent from smaller colleges.

I haven't done enough research to learn how much the smaller colleges gross and net, but wouldn't it be possible to select an amount of money that even they could pay players so that all players, across the board in college football, received some pay that would allow them to buy cars, date girls, buy clothes, get a shake at Sonic, etc., without having to take money under the table.  Of course, some would still go the illegal route.  There are always people who like to cut corners.  But at least MOST players would be fairly paid for their work.

According to the 2010 Report from the Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports,
"In Division I football, African

That tells me almost half of all football players in Division 1 football are Black.  So half of the students not being paid are, for the most part, descendents of slaves.  Where are Jesse Jackson and other Black leaders on this issue?

And just as bad are the White players, Latinos, and Asians.  Where are the leaders of these groups on this issue?

If you look at the entire 2010 report, you see that in college football, there is a much higher percentage of Whites in the administrative, coaching, and other leadership roles for the colleges.

I believe God gave humans brains so that we can make life more fair.  To me, it certainly is NOT fair for the colleges to make so much profit on the backs of these players while not sharing some of that bounty with them.  Again, young people need cars, clothes, and spending money for dating, etc.

Further, it is grossly unethical to place these young people into positions of having to make moral decisions on where to obtain such money.  These students have enough to deal with as they study, stay healthy, stay away from drugs, learn to interact successfully with their peers and with others.  Why set them up to skirt the rules?  

Can't people see by tempting them to travel down the negative brain path of breaking rules, that we are creating a future for them that may make it easier for them to break many other rules.

The point is, change the NCAA rules and pay these young people something.  Don't continue this style of Old South Plantation Slavery by taking advantage of students.  
In case you are interested, The Institute of Diversity and Ethics in Sports has many documents available online about all level of sports.

At some point, things will change and student players will be paid.  That may happen only in the distant future as people stop paying for tickets and stop watching football on TV as they realize they are promoting this inequality and demand fairness.  The sad thing is, every viewer and every attendee at these college football games is unconsciously (or, for some, even consciously) giving an OK to this behavior.  So, if you don't like it, email the NCAA and ask them to change the rules (that is called lobbying, for those of you who aren't familiar with the term).

Obviously, I have another reason for not watching college football. Give me blood-and-guts chess tournaments any day (that is sarcasm)!
Americans account for 45.8 percent of the athletes and whites hold 45.1 percent, indicating the levels of participation between these two races continue to remain very close."

No comments: