A highlight from The exploitation of US college athletes | Tim Nevius
Boston college named doug flutie for game winning touchdown pass against the defending national champions university of miami as the hail. Mary pass floated through the fall. Air in front of a packed stadium. Millions more watched with excitement on tv after the dramatic win undergraduate application rates at boston. College shot up by thirty percent revealing to universities the enormous marketing value of building high profile. Sports programs that same year. The united states supreme court heard a case in which the university of georgia and oklahoma challenged rules that limited the number of football games. They could play on tv though. School saw the opportunity to not only make money by televising their games but to also market their universities to the world. The supreme court agreed that the broadcasting restrictions were illegal and schools began to negotiate. Tv deals worth millions. That case opened the floodgates to money and college athletics and with it ever growing conflicts of interest that prioritize sports over education promote wins over health and safety and reinforce the disturbing racial and economic inequities in our country since then the growth in college. Sports has been extraordinary and schools have earned record revenues year after year the spending during that same time period his increased it almost the same dramatic pace as universities engage in an arms race to the top of the rankings. Massive expenditures on new stadiums. Bigger staffs and record salaries have made it appear on the books at least that athletic departments are losing money while they build lavish facilities and make multimillionaires out coaches and administrators in fact and forty fifty states. The highest paid public employee is now a college football or basketball coach. Meanwhile college athletes whose elite talent generate these massive revenues are not only denied the ability to share in the riches they create too many of them are not given the education. They're promised either today. College athletes are exploited to the tune of almost fifteen billion dollars. That's how much money is generated by college sports each year. I'm all too familiar with the exploitation. Because i used to be responsible for enforcing it. Following my own college baseball career at the university of dayton. I went on to law school before becoming an investigator at the national collegiate athletic association. I traveled to college campuses across the country in helped him force a four hundred page rulebook that denies athletes the right to get paid for their performance or even profit from their own name. For instance unlike the music student who in addition to their scholarship can get paid to record a song or the english student who in addition to their scholarship can get paid to write a book. College athletes cannot profit from their talents. Or even take a free meal without being ruled ineligible in risking their scholarship. During my time as an investigator. I questioned hundreds of athletes and their families about their financial transactions dug through their personal bank and phone records and scrutinized their relationships to a humiliating degree offer. The possibility that someone gave them something beyond a scholarship no matter how petty in one case i questioned ohio state football players who receive free tattoos and cash in exchange for memorabilia. The case received national attention and became known as tattoo gate as if it were a scandal on par with political espionage. The players were suspended and had to repay the cash as well. As the value of the tattoos in effect unpaid athletes find by a billion dollar organization that gets paid by sponsors to decorate the athletes in corporate logos. I was told my job was to promote fairness but there was nothing fair about that shortly thereafter i left the nc double and started fighting for the athletes. It became increasingly clear to me that rules supposedly designed to prevent exploitation instead allow a collection of universities in their wealthy corporate sponsors to profit off the athletes who are promised education in lured by a chance that the pros but who often end up with nothing now. Some people believe college athletes get a free ride however there is nothing free about risking health and safety while working forty to fifty hours per week as you fight to keep your scholarship in football loan. There are over twenty thousand injuries a year including four thousand injuries in one thousand spinal injuries since two thousand forty players have died beyond football. A recent study revealed that an estimated sixty percent of division one college athletes suffer a major injury in their career in over half of them endure chronic conditions that last well beyond their playing days. There is nothing free about that especially as the aa refuses to enforce health and safety standards and has denied in court. It even has that responsibility in about that education. They're promised according to the college sports research institute black football and basketball players in the top five conferences graduate at twenty two and thirty seven percent lower than the undergraduate population. Those who do graduate are often shuffled into majors with watered-down courses conform to their athletic schedules. To simply keep them eligible the time demands and required focus on sports makes it challenging for even the most well intentioned athlete to get a meaningful education. This is unacceptable for a fifteen billion dollar industry run by institutions whose mission is to educate young people. Although plenty of athletes succeed their achievements. Don't require rules that deny pay or a system that limits educational opportunities or neglect health and safety. The fact is american. Universities oversee a multibillion dollar entertainment industry that denies fundamental rights to it's essential workers a disproportionate number of whom are black while making millionaires of largely white coaches and administrators. This dynamic has not only deprived many young people a meaningful education. It has shifted generations of wealth away from mostly black families and represents the systemic inequities plaguing our society. The good news is that people are starting to see the truth. The instabilities own public polling has revealed that a staggering seventy nine percent of the public believe that colleges put money ahead of their athletes state and federal lawmakers both republican and democrat have also taken notice and started to act several. us senators have rightly described. The problems in college sports as he's civil rights issue meanwhile college athletes from across the country have started to stand up to demand greater health and safety protections representation rights attention to racial and social justice issues and economic fairness. Those who think the players should just stick to. Sports failed to recognize how rarely college athletes speak up and ignore the great personal risk. They take and confronting powerful industry especially without any representation. More importantly critics failed to acknowledge that college athletes are simply seeking rights. That are ford. Virtually everyone else in this country and basic protections. That shouldn't even be in question. I agree the college. Sports should be an enjoyable distraction but not when they're distracting us from the very injustice. They enable in his retirement. The nc double a.'s first and longest serving executive director. Walter byers described college. Sports as the plantation mentality resurrected in blessed by today's campus executives. This is telling quote from the man who designed this system and the one who best. But you don't have to be an insider to recognize the exploitation of young people. You don't have to be a republican or a democrat to be troubled by the irresponsible spending or the disregard for values at our universities. You don't even have to be a sports fan. You just have to believe and basic ideas of fairness and the values of higher education. So let's require that all college athletes are given a chance at a meaningful education. Let's demand responsible spending by our universities and fairly allocate the billions of dollars being generated. Let's create robust health and safety standards to protect those who entertain us with their bodies and enforce those standards. Let's provide college athletes with a representative body so they have recourse when things go wrong and a voice about how to make things right finally. Let's rise the challenge of our time and once and for all correct persistent racial and economic inequities that apply to college sports and beyond changes long overdue. But there's never been a better time than now. Hey ted talks to listeners. I'm adam grant. I husband other podcast from the ted audio collective. It's called worklife. And it's about the science of making work next time. Why do we get trapped and bad decisions. It's almost like your gas letting yourself like you're you're telling yourself no no like the evidence around you is not correct but there are ways to pull the plug on bad decisions before it's too late. Follow work life with adam grant on spotify now.