Like the South in the 1850′s, the economics of college sports — as we know them today — depend on a concept that looks increasingly like slavery.
That model is being challenged, as Rachel Bachman reports.
“Win, lose or settle, the O’Bannon case has the potential to deliver the most important legal directive in the NCAA’s century-old history. If it achieves class-action status, it could determine whether the athletes who loft touchdown passes and swish three-pointers for viewers’ enjoyment are entitled to a portion of the billions of dollars derived in large part from those moments.”
The basis of the economic model is amateurism, a sounds-great-but-actually-suspect concept not easily defined. Does this clear it up for you?
“The NCAA includes many provisions about amateurism in its 439-page Division I manual but lacks a hard-and-fast definition of the word. Essentially it says that an amateur is an athlete who (a) is not a professional, and (b) abides by the NCAA’s rules of amateurism. Those rules can change, and often do.”
Are the pious references to “student athletes” really a death rattle?