Six Reasons College Athletes Should Boycott Until They Are Paid. : ThyBlackMan

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Six Reasons College Athletes Should Boycott Until They Are Paid.

February 1, 2014 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Sports, Weekly Columns

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( When I was a student at The University of Kentucky, I used to write about collegiate athletics in the campus paper.  One of the players on the basketball team told me that the coaches told them not to read my articles, because they didn’t want “their heads getting filled with dangerous ideas.”  I admit that this reaction baffled me, because I was naive enough to wonder how someone could be dangerous by simply telling the truth. But years later, I realize that the best way to keep a group of people powerless is by ensuring that they remain divided, distracted, and grossly uniformed.  By using my finance background to inform black athletes of their collective economic value, there was fear that I might help wake up a sleeping giant.

Like many other people who have basic common sense, I’ve long been perturbed by the NCAA and its style of operation.  As a black man, I am offended because the NCAA extracts over a billion dollars in economic value from the African American community every year.  As a professor, I’m concerned about the fact that most of the college athletes I’ve known over the years have rarely gotten a quality education.  As a Financialncaa-2014 scholar, I’m curious as to how a professional sports league that earns more ad revenue than most other sports is able to get away without paying its primary sources of labor, not to mention the IRS.

So, here are a few reasons why I argue that athletes should make it simple:  Boycott the NCAA until you are compensated:

1)      Because the NCAA is a cartel: A cartel, simply put, is the product of a scenario where a group of individuals or organizations coordinate in order to control a market. The typical result is price-fixing, which is illegal in nearly any other industry in America.  Imagine if Walmart, Target and Kmart all colluded and agreed to pay their employees $8 dollars an hour.  Such actions would lead to an investigation by the Justice Department and subsequent penalties.   The NCAA cartel does the same by getting hundreds of universities to agree not to pay the athletes, thereby getting rid of competition among themselves at the expense of the players’ families:  That’s why a school can earn $20 million dollars by winning the NCAA championship when the star player’s mother has to take a Greyhound bus in order to see the game.

2)      Because power only concedes to power:  The reason that assistant coaches in college sports are paid so well is because they have filed lawsuits to protect their rights.  The NCAA itself was formulated through a series of power plays by former Executive Director Walter Byers.  Byers didn’t make any friends with his tactics, but he eventually got universities to get in line by threatening to withhold services until he got what he wanted.  Right now, college athletes possess the most valuable service in all of college sports: Their presence on the field.  If they were to take this away, universities would have no choice but to get in line.

3)      Because the man who created the current system eventually concluded that it was unethical: After spending 37 years at the helm of the NCAA, Byers later admitted that the current system and its excessive commercialism call for a more ethical business model.  In other words, the guy who built the NCAA to be what it has become today actually says that the system is corrupt. 

4)      Because it’s racist:  Anyone with at least one working eyeball is fully aware that a disproportionate number of leading athletes in revenue-generating sports are African American.  Many of these athletes have mothers living in the projects, some of whom can’t afford to pay for food.  Even Byers himself admitted that the NCAA is similar to a plantation: “Today the NCAA Presidents Commission is preoccupied with tightening a few loose bolts in a worn machine, firmly committed to the neo-plantation belief that the enormous proceeds from college games belong to the overseers (administrators) and supervisors (coaches). The plantation workers performing in the arena may only receive those benefits authorized by the overseers.”

5)      Because it keeps you from getting an education:  I’ve taught on Division I college campuses for the last 20 years.  I recall fighting with football coaches after having students removed from my class for an entire week to play in big games. I saw athletes so exhausted from constant practice that they were unable to concentrate on their studies.  I’ve seen students pushed through college without being able to read.  I’ve seen players lose their scholarship after getting injured.  I’ve even seen players forced to change their major so that it didn’t interfere with the football schedule. This happens often and it makes the clear case that those in revenue-generating sports  are simply professional athletes who aren’t getting paid for their labor. No, a scholarship is not fair compensation:  If the trade is fair, then why not let the athlete earn fair market value and pay his own tuition?  Or how about paying the coaches and athletic directors with free education instead of multi-million dollar paychecks?  Of course they would never go for that. 

6)      Because every other American has labor rights and college athletes do not:  A fundamental premise in a free society is that every human being has certain rights.  This might be the right to due process in the event that someone is going to penalize you, or the right to negotiate a fair wage for your services.   Players at Northwestern University are working to unionize, which is a good first step.  I would argue that players also deserve the right to profit from their own image and likeness without the NCAA extracting all the proceeds and making it illegal for a player to get free food if he’s hungry. 

Only a sick, corrupt or uninformed individual can try to justify the current system as it stands.  When I appeared on a CBS sports special to discuss this topic a few years ago, I wasn’t surprised to see that most of the coaches, administrators and commentators arguing that athletes shouldn’t get paid were the same ones receiving millions of dollars per year from athlete labor.  The hypocrisy is so blatant and embarrassing that I dare say that even the NCAA leaders themselves don’t believe what they are saying.

The system has got to change and the fastest path to change is for the athletes to make it happen.  If the players refuse to show up for the games, they will not only get the attention of the world, they will also pave the way for future generations.   This evil empire must come to an end.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins 

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  For more information, please visit

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