Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Atlantic Mag - The NCAA: "an unmistakable whiff of the plantation."


Found at

This quote was the most articulate quote I have ever read regarding the exploitation of athletes at the college level.

It is also my opinion that this quote is applicable to the USA Swimming management and how the national team members are treated. Here is the quote in it's entirety:

"... Slavery analogies should be used carefully. College athletes are not slaves. Yet to survey the scene—corporations and universities enriching themselves on the backs of uncompensated young men, whose status as “student-athletes” deprives them of the right to due process guaranteed by the Constitution—is to catch an unmistakable whiff of the plantation. ..."

"...Enriching themselves on the back of student athletes!" that phrase could easily be applicable to just about all the National Governing bodies within this country; most notably the execs at USA Swimming. Consider this alteration of the above phrase: "...enriching themselves on the backs of 10-to-15-year-old girls..."

I pick the 10-to-15-year old girl analogy because that is the overwhelming majority or what the average USA Swimmer looks like. The average USA Swimming participant is white, and between the ages of ten-to-fifteen-years-old.

Here are the USA Swimming demographics: [Link]

These are the salaries of the executive brass at USA Swimming in 2008 - see page 34-35. The CEO of USA Swimming is listed on page-34 as making $636,651 but on page-35 there seems to be an addendum; (correct me if I am wrong), but an additional $139,192 has been added. If that is an added dollar mount to his salary his salary figure would be approaching $800,000. See above or go here: [Link]

What have these girls & boys been provided by USA Swimming that they did not have to pay for? This is suppose to be a non-profit and I ask you what do they receive that they do not have to pay for? Coaches pay for certification wheres kids pay to play and compete. This is a genuine question.

Now, I ask if the below solution that an NCAA team was about to attempt the only way a professional swimmer with USA Swimming can a earn a share of the money that is doled out to USA Swimming when each Olympics rolls around?

"... NCAA v. Regents left the NCAA devoid of television football revenue and almost wholly dependent on March Madness basketball. It is rich but insecure. Last year, CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting paid $771 million to the NCAA for television rights to the 2011 men’s basketball tournament alone. That’s three-quarters of a billion dollars built on the backs of amateurs—on unpaid labor. The whole edifice depends on the players’ willingness to perform what is effectively volunteer work. The athletes, and the league officials, are acutely aware of this extraordinary arrangement. William Friday, the former North Carolina president, recalls being yanked from one Knight Commission meeting and sworn to secrecy about what might happen if a certain team made the NCAA championship basketball game. “They were going to dress and go out on the floor,” Friday told me, “but refuse to play,” in a wildcat student strike. Skeptics doubted such a diabolical plot. These were college kids—unlikely to second-guess their coaches, let alone forfeit the dream of a championship. Still, it was unnerving to contemplate what hung on the consent of a few young volunteers: several hundred million dollars in television revenue, countless livelihoods, the NCAA budget, and subsidies for sports at more than 1,000 schools. Friday’s informants exhaled when the suspect team lost before the finals.

If only that team had won, where would USA Swimming athletes be?

If it is considered in the coming year at some Grand Prix or even in London, would a Michael Phelps or a Ryan Lochte support the athletes at their side? I doubt it but this swimmer knows this, USA Swimmers are exploited from the top all the way down to the bottom. Though USA Swimming is a non profit, how much money actually goes to the subject of their non-profit versus what the subject of their non-profit pays into it?

Finally, one can argue that NCAA athletes get scholarships. So, what about the scholarships? Is that a form a payment?

“...Scholarship athletes are already paid,” declared the Knight Commission members, “in the most meaningful way possible: with a free education.” This evasion by prominent educators severed my last reluctant, emotional tie with imposed amateurism. I found it worse than self-serving. It echoes masters who once claimed that heavenly salvation would outweigh earthly injustice to slaves. In the era when our college sports first arose, colonial powers were turning the whole world upside down to define their own interests as all-inclusive and benevolent. Just so, the NCAA calls it heinous exploitation to pay college athletes a fair portion of what they earn.

Please read the article.


Anonymous said...

How about a bit of that money going to the Sports Science/Sports Medicine division.

When we were visited by some sports consultants around 18 months ago, we were told that there simply was not enough money to invest in the kinds of research that we were interested in. You know, things like the hydrodynamics of each stroke, why some swimmers are faster than others, etc.

It seems as though we have nearly a million dollars a year that we are spending on our CEO. I am sure it is not the only bloated position on USA Swimming's payroll.

You should have seen the frustration that some of the coaches in the room were feeling when they were told how poor USA Swimming was.

Hmmm. I better leave this one anonymous. I am in Jacksonville right now.

Tony Austin said...

I think you're smart by posting anonymously and that is why i have it so people like you can constructively criticize this organization without reprisals.

Chris DeSantis said...

The sports science division of USA Swimming got totally kneecapped a few years ago. They really don't have much beyond Russell Mark anymore.

I get the sense that big time coaches like Russell because he just provided technical info but doesn't make judgments

Bill Ireland said...

The Atlantic Magazine article on the NCAA was very interesting. I had never realized how weak its roots were.

The only point that it did not mention is that the NCAA does use some portion of its money to support other sports championships. I don't know what percentage of the revenue from the NCAA television rights goes to that but some does. I don't think that justifies anything since there is a disconnect between Terrell Pryor's jersey being sold for money--and him getting nothing while being declared ineligible if he gets any share of the profit from use of his name--and then using some of those profits to support flying swimmers to NCAA championshps. I like swimmers more than football players but I don't know why the money from one should go to the other while the player gets nothing.