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My sister was a D1 athlete at a major SEC school. She was on the same scholarship as all the football and basketball players and participated in the only female sport that actually turned a profit. You absolutely can not compare her college experience to a normal college kid. It was much more exclusive and priveledged. In fact the athletes commonly referred to the non athlete's at the school as 'normies' and it was definitely a derogatory term. I also was on a full ride scholarship, but at a service academy. And obviously there's quite a bit of differences there but the one point I will bring up is that I was on a stipend from my parents of $200 a month so I didn't have to eat chow hall food every night. My sister did not need any such stipend. So I think the premise that they need more money is a bit off-base.
Now on the other side of the equation is the NCAA. I think the reality is that they make money off the likeness of a few of their student-athletes. Is it as much as people think... I'd so no. Is it more than they say... I'd say yes. I think a large majority of that money is going back to the universities and spent on non-revenue sports. I'm sure somebody somewhere is getting a kickback or a ridiculous pension or something, but is it really rampant. Someone can probably prove me wrong on this but I don't see NCAA officials going to jail for fraud or some sort of pyramid scheme. I don't think people get involved, atleast initially, in the NCAA because they want to get rich.
So who really gets screwed by the current system? You're superstar football and basketball players. Somebody could do a serious economic study but I'm going to just spitball it and say basically your first round draft picks in both sports are undervalued by the current system. After that you have to ask yourself what would a professional organization pay a potential second round pick from the time he's 18-22? Is it more than 50k a year? Plus they have to invest in somebody to develop him over those 4 years as well. Just because the NCAA is making money off of them does not mean they are entitled to that money... ask the NFLPA. You could argue the form of the compensation they are receiving (education) but I think the value is pretty much right on and that's not even calculating for potential future earnings for a college degree vs. 50k in your pocket.
The real problem in my opinion is the professional organizations. It is absolutely criminal to say that an 18 year old young man can not make a living by doing and using whatever skills he wishes. If that's basketball or football then so be it. I'm not sure what the politics behind this are but I feel like it's the player's assosciations trying to keep a larger piece of the pie to themselves and the professional organizations go along with it because it keeps their overhead down. It limits the amount of players they need to recruit and infastructure they need to support for these developmental teams that could then be generated. I find it hard to believe that if a Braxton Miller said out of HS that he had no interest in going to college and wanted to practice and play football 24/7 an NFL team would not draft him, put him on their practice team, hire a QB guru, and pay Braxton 60/70/80/100k a year. After 4 years there's a good chance they might have something. If the union truly looked after those who wished to work professionally in their industry they would immediately get rid of any age restriction. As soon as one NFL owner decided it would be worthwhile to sign a high profile high school student, and I believe they would do so quite quickly, others would immediately follow suit and the NFL Developmental League would begin shortly there after. So I don't think the problem is with the NCAA the problem is with the monopolies on professional football and basketball picking and choosing who can be a part of their club not based on merit but on age.
My last quick point is that big picture/societal wise incentivising education with athletics isn't such a bad thing and that's essential what we do now. I think a minor league football system would quickly look much like the European soccer structure. In that system teenagers and sometimes younger (Messi was 11 when he became a pro) drop out of school to play soccer. I don't think that's such a great idea.
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