For love of the Sportball (or athletic boosters need to take up a real cause)

Marketplace had a piece in their broadcast about an investigation at Oklahoma State University over their athletic boosters. The contention is over some "impropriety" in how these boosters supported college athletes. This all leads back to the NCAA's rules about athlete compensation, which lead to a quote in the piece from Professor Ellen Staurowsky:

“Are we selling off the value system of higher education each time we enter into these kinds of agreements?” she says.

Staurowsky says the underground economy in college sports wouldn’t exist if players were fairly compensated to begin with. A “full” scholarship, she says, can fall $3,500 to $5,000 short of the full cost of college.

Wow, what a travesty. These players might have to spend money to go to school to play more sportball. Oh the humanity!

At the beginning of the broadcast there was also a piece about what is being termed "The Lost Generation": students entering the workforce at lower wages. One of the quotes from that piece? "And for those taking the double hit of a lousy-paying job and a boatload of student loan debt, it could mean years of struggling. The student loan default rate is now around 9 percent, double what it was before the recession."

So, the college athletes' peer group (and I use that term loosely) is graduating with a bunch of debt too, but potentially without the benefit of a college scholarship to cover the difference.

And there are folks who think that college athletes should be paid on top of this? I'm sure both sets of folks have similar grocery bills.

But lest my blood boil off too soon, the quote Ellen made about the value system of education is downright laughable. You want to know who really got sold off in higher education? Adjunct Faculty.

You see, while these boosters are busily trying to make sure the college athlete can make ends meet so they can go on to win some yearly contest, it's the faculty that ensures that whenever that college athlete gives up their dream of playing professionally (and you're fooling yourself if you think everyone makes it professionally) there's the faculty trying hard to make sure that whatever this person leaves with will be considered a "college education". While the boosters feed a machine that grinds athletes up for sport, the faculty ate trying to drill a desire to learn that lasts long after the fans have left the stadium.

And they make a pittance. It's not even called a wage. It's called the same thing they want to give to the players: a "stipend".

If your boosters have so much damn money that you can piss it away in some meaningless dogpile to see who can come out on top, and your only concern is that your team might get sanctioned to not play because of it, you have lost the right and privilege to call yourself an educational institution. All your teachers are are just rubber stamps for an athletic system that is completely out of control and superfluous to the goal of education.

You might as well rename yourself the minor leagues, because the facade of education is long gone. And that is pathetic.

And if any booster decides that education is more important and decides to fund the real injustice in the college arena, namely the inequity in teacher salaries, I'll gladly eat any piece of logoed apparel from the school of their choice.

But when athletic boosting to cover atlhete expenses are more important than paying teachers a living wage to educate these athletes, then we have a serious problem.


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