This writer is talking about the big-time stuff, football, basketball. He thinks paying the players would make matters even more sordid. He sets the scene:

[P]ractically all of the dozens of football players [at the University of Southern California] with whom I interacted [as a tutor] resented their schoolwork, or to be specific, the requirement of it. They viewed it as a particularly onerous element of the raw deal that was playing collegiate-level professional sports for free. Without quite saying it, they viewed amateurism as a farce, a predatory bargain struck long before any of them had nailed their first slow-moving quarterback. They could live with the exploitation, it seemed, but certain things fell beneath their dignity, compulsory study being one of them.

However:

[T]he tragedy at the heart of college sports is college sports. Paying the players would only ensure the continuation of athletic programs as currently constructed. Everything would remain as it is, with the freakishly lucrative enterprises that are Division I college football and basketball nestled awkwardly within our higher education system. Payment would, in fact, give the system needed space to grow, protect it with a thin veneer of legitimacy, and free everyone from the constraints that have lately burdened the good time of college athletics.

Constraints here means the need for universities to find ways to pretend that these guys are in some sense students.

The pretense works fine as long as the university is itself, tout court, a pretense – the University of Alabama, Clemson, Baylor.

The pretense is always falling apart at Blanche DuBois schools, schools that continue to flatter themselves that they’re universities (Penn State, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill). At UNC they have spot checks to make sure professors are meeting their classes – – along, of course, with spot checks to make sure athletes are attending them. It’s one big pre-school program.

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One Response to ““The tragedy at the heart of college sports is college sports.””

  1. John Says:

    The excesses as of now are coach and administrator salaries and facilities. They are subsidized by unpaid performers. Hence the squawking. No one likes losing subsidies.

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