Friday, February 21, 2014

Amateurs need to be paid


For decades, the ideal of amateurism has obscured the reality that sports, whether part of the Olympics or a bowl game, are big business. That reality is driving what are likely to be major changes in the role and compensation of athletes.
    Northwestern University’s athletes are looking to unionize in order to negotiate more immediate and tangible returns than those currently offered to “student athletes” for their contributions.
    At first blush, the demand seems outrageous. A full scholarship for a player at a top-flight school like Northwestern is the equivalent of approximately a quarter million dollars. The future value of a Northwestern degree is undoubtedly higher.
    The ideal of the amateur athlete pursuing his or her sport for the pure love of the contest is compelling. That ideal drove longtime International Olympic Committee Chairman Avery Brundage to resist for decades the participation of professionals in the Olympic Games, and to overlook the nonsensical notion that French champion Jean-Claude Killy was a postman who just happened to be the best skier on the planet.
    There is no doubt that love of their sport in particular and competition in general drives any athlete. Watching the incredible skills demonstrated by Olympic athletes makes it seem unlikely that anyone would or could spend the time and effort necessary to reach that level in return for money alone. No matter how much they love their sport, however, athletes deserve their share of the money now generated by those efforts.
    Sports have become big business. Between 2003 and 2012, Northwestern University’s football revenue totaled $235 million and its expenses totaled $159 million.
    Admittedly, not every sport generates that kind of return but modern college sports are not just an extracurricular activity. Proof of their growth and immense profitability is demonstrated by the willingness of colleges to give up traditional rivalries beloved by students and alums in order to reap huge money from television contracts and bowl appearances.
    We cannot go back to a simpler time when football players wore leather helmets and crew was the avocation of Eastern gentlemen. The money and joy of sport come from the athletes and they deserve both protection and fair compensation in return. Unionization may not be the exact answer, but discussing it is a good start.




About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of mtexpress.com and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads



 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.