Sports At All Costs

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An NCAA record 115,109 packed Michigan Stadium on Sept. 7 to watch the Wolverines battle Notre Dame. (Photo Credit: USATSI)

 

Maize and blue shirts blanketed the stadium. The sea of fans stood screaming, their faces painted like warriors in the midst of a cold-blooded war.  They cheered and booed with unbridled enthusiasm at the raw athletic talent on display.

More than 115,000 packed Michigan Stadium to see the Michigan-Notre Dame game on Sept. 7, setting the single-game NCAA attendance record and further cementing college football as an unstoppable, multi-billion dollar force in entertainment and television.

Dig beneath the surface, however, and it’s not all glitz and glamour neatly packaged for Saturday viewing. College football — and all amateur sports for that matter — come with a price.

The NCAA generates billions of dollars each year through TV deals, while the players themselves don’t see a dime. The recent settlement between EA sports and former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon  is just another example of players fighting for what they call a well-deserved piece of the NCAA pie (the much larger potential class action suit is still pending).

But amidst the corruption scandals and bloated salaries for university presidents and college football coaches, we, the fans, are still disillusioned. The sport, one that brings millions together in stadiums and bars and homes across the country, is carrying the burden of youth oppression. The notion of the “student athlete” is an old-world one, but one the NCAA is holding onto with an increasingly tight fist.

The issues of “enforced amateurism” are only part of the controversy swirling around college football. Football has proved to be a brutal — and sometimes deadly — game for many who decide to strap on a helmet.

With concussions in football on the rise, schools and statewide regulating organizations like PSAL are making changes to help better protect their student-athletes. Kickoffs are often the bread and butter of heart-stopping entertainment and highlight reels, but as the most dangerous play in the game, at what cost do they come?

This week the CUNY Sports Report digs beneath the surface with a special package on the social issues currently plaguing amateurism, and the “myth of the student-athlete.”

 

 

 

1 Comment

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