John Oliver takes on the NCAA

In his latest investigative piece, he highlights why it really is a crime how so many colleges exploit their student athletes.

And on a related matter, Chris Borland, a 24-year old football player starting out on a promising career with an NFL team, has decided that the risk of brain injury is just not worth it and is walking away from the game to go back to school and get a graduate degree. It must have not been easy to walk away from so much money.

That is a good sign and I hope the beginning of a trend. The evidence of brain injury due to repeated blows to the head is so great that football should be viewed like boxing. For that matter, I can’t believe that people still watch boxing or mixed martial arts fights where there is not even the pretense that the purpose of the ‘sport’ is not to beat other people up. What is it that makes people enjoy such a gruesome sight?

I admit that when I was a boy, during the Muhammad Ali era, I followed boxing. But as I slowly realized what it does to the fighters, I quit watching.


  1. doublereed says

    It seems to me that there is a massive conflict of interest with education and the NCAA. I don’t think athletes should necessarily be paid, but then the priorities of the NCAA should be completely different:

    -They should enforce rules on how many hours athletes can practice, so that they are actually students first and foremost
    -Coaches and NCAA employees should have relative and absolute salary caps
    -NCAA profits should entirely go to universities and college education for non-sports-related causes
    -Workers comp

    If the NCAA is pushing this student-athlete argument, then their priorities should be on education, not profit.

  2. lorn says

    I’ve long felt that college athletics at the level of NCAA and SEC should simply be full-on professional teams. The universities would simply buy their way into the team name by giving all the players players vouchers for a for a fully funded four year scholarship. When the player retires they can go to college and get a degree. No need to play act amateur status with everyone but the players raking in the dough. No need for athletes to try to dedicate themselves to academics, and athletics, at the same time.

  3. Ysidro says

    I’ve started suggesting the entire NCAA system should be dismantled. Football and basketball are especially nasty in that the college teams are used as farm teams for the professional organizations. You don’t see the same thing with the other sports under the NCAA. Hockey and baseball, for example, have their own farm/minor league team structures.

    But collegiate football and basketball use unpaid labor to make a lot of people a lot of money and any way you spin it, it isn’t right. I don’t think paying students is the solution. I think paying professionals is the solution. If they want to get an education as well (and personally I think everyone should have the opportunity), then they can. But no paper classes, no taking academic funds to pay for sports (seriously, even the few teams that make a profit don’t put it back into anything other than their program and they still take money from the school anyway.)

    Between this and football’s concussion problem, I’m finding it impossible to enjoy watching team sports anymore.

  4. lanir says

    I don’t watch sports so I also don’t watch college sports. If I do anything with sports I’d rather just be playing them. So my perspective may be a bit weird, but perhaps they could solve a lot of the problems simply by providing the sort of care that I think most people who just watch the stuff could reasonably assume is already part of the deal. Like health care or scholarships that continue even if the athlete is injured. If that breaks the rules then from the sound of it the problem is just that you haven’t made the pool of people who benefit from it large enough.

    Caveat: To some degree anything involving healthcare would fall afoul of the oppressively ubiquitous nonsense surrounding workman’s compensation where the assumption seems to be that the injured party is lying or cheating the system somehow until proven otherwise -- at length (I think up to 7 years with ) -- and even a frivolous challenge will cut off all funding until proven to be nonsense. Falling afoul of that crap is also a kind of education but not the kind of life lesson I’d like anyone to learn, even people I dislike intensely (exceptions being maybe the jerks on the other side but they never need it of course).

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