Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
Steve Spurrier, head football coach of the University of South Carolina, has said he would be willing to pay 70 players a $300 per game stipend out of his own pocket. The Pay College Athletes Association wants to establish a fund paid into by fans and companies seeking endorsers. New National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) President Mark Emmert is wrestling with booster demands for using part of TV revenues to provide expense money for athletes.
Yes, the tenacious idea of (further) rewards for college athletes has bubbled to the surface again ā?" and should be left simmering a long time. No one can deny that many players come from a devastatingly poor background, that players work hard or that (some) college sporting events rake in big money. But we need to keep things in perspective.
Perhaps we could tone down the rhetoric a little. Some pundits have derided the exploitation of college athletes as a "plantation system." That description is dead on - except that no one is forcing the players to go to college, no one is forcing them to play for a particular team, no one is asking them to "tote that bale" of a student loan and many of them stand the chance of soon earning enough money to buy and sell the college president.
The "Roots" theme also falls a little short in the area of punishment. ("Toby, we caught you breaking the rules. Therefore we're going to chop off - your spare tutor!")
There are just too many unanswered questions. How would teams manage to circumvent Title IX gender equity regulations? Would payments be uniform or vary from institution to institution? Would reserves be paid? Would athletes from sports that don't generate revenue be paid? Would "walking around money" also be given to the non-athlete students who are walking around trying to find milk crate furniture and day-old ramen noodles?
For some reason, people are placing way too little value on the sweet deal that athletes already receive. I can just imagine how these revisionists would change "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." ("I got five pieces of candy." "I got a chocolate bar." "I got a quarter." "I got a rock." "I got a full scholarship with room and board and a book allowance and national TV exposure." "Good grief! What a LOSER!")
Supporters of reform are convinced that a stipend plan will cut down on rule violations and scandals. You know, just like perks, expense accounts and privileges have given us such a clean, honest Congress.
Everybody with any connection to a team's success wants a piece of the pie from TV and merchandising money. Certainly the cash-strapped Greek government will get into the act. ("We Greeks invented the first true alphabet, so we demand a royalty for every x and o you use in your game plans.")
A need-based NCAA Student Assistance Fund currently contains $59 million to deal with hardship cases. Why not enhance it, streamline it and publicize it - instead of completely giving up on the ideal of amateur athletics?
Let's not forget the focus of providing an education (including values such as patience and dues-paying). If nothing else, boosters need to take a remedial Lit class and bone up on IRONY. Then they'll recognize the need to change the University of Tennessee VOLUNTEERS to the University of Tennessee Show-Me-The-Moneys.
©2011 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes reader e-mail responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page "Tyree's Tyrades". Danny's weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate. For info on using columns, please email Cari Dawson Bartley at [email protected] or call 800 696 7561.