How I Came To Hate The NCAA

Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten, they’ll swing back to the belief that they can make people…better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave.

–Capt. Mal Reynolds, Serenity

If you had asked me 6 weeks ago if I thought the NCAA should exist, I would have said yes.  Despite its limitations, ivory tower academic arrogance, and outright hypocrisy I thought the NCAA at least as a concept was doing the best it could.

I have increasingly begun to believe that this is not true and that the NCAA is doing more harm to sports in this country in general and collegiate sports in particular then it is doing good.  My primary problem with the NCAA is that there is no one in charge and no one to which the organization answers.  All other problems and issues spring from this void of leadership.

It isn’t that the university presidents, who give the final OK for any decision, won’t change their rules of amateurism; it is that they cannot conceive of the need to do so.

If you have ever been around a group of highly intelligent and highly educated people with only a tenuous connection to the hurly-burly of everyday life, you know they have all the answers and can solve all the world’s problems.  Just ask them.

However, if it were merely the arrogant preening of academia the problem wouldn’t be so bad.  It is that combined with the self-serving nature of many of the rules that has finally pushed me over to the opposition.

Reading rule 12.4.4. Self-Employment was my Road to Damascus moment.  Here it is in its entirety:

12.4.4 Self-Employment. A student-athlete may establish his or her own business, provided the student-athlete’s name, photograph, appearance or athletics reputation are not used to promote the business. (Adopted: 12/12/06)

This rule on its own is bad enough in a twisted Orwellian way.  It says you don’t own your own name or image.  The kicker is the very next section of the rule book is 12.5 Promotional Activities.  Section 12.5.1 Permissible lays out the activities the student-athlete’s likeness can be used for, and low and behold the member institution can use the student-athlete’s likeness to raise money and the NCAA can use that same student-athlete’s likeness to promote its championships.

Self-serving only begins to describe the level of arrogance that allows an organization to, in essence, steal a person’s identity.  They are saying, “As long as you are a student-athlete under our organization, you cannot use your own name or likeness to make any money, but we can use your likeness as we see fit to promote our programs and to raise as much money as possible.”

They believe they know what is best for everyone, and for too long all of us have been their accomplices.  We believed them when they said they were doing what was right and good for amateurism in this country even as they signed billion dollar contracts to televise their amateur athletes.  Only by pointing out and holding them responsible for the idiocy they are foisting upon us will things change.

If you know me, you know I am a graduate of UNC and I love Tar Heel sports.  You may think this is about the academic fraud investigation and the belief that UNC did nothing wrong.  Well, UNC did a lot of things wrong and should be punished for the stuff we know happened and the stuff we are still finding.  The problem I have is that I don’t trust the NCAA to know the difference between right and wrong, nor do I trust them to mete out any type of sensible or effective punishment.

The system is rotten from the ground up.  These people have twisted and deformed an idea that is part and parcel to a grand tradition in this country: Using your athletic skills to get an education and make a better life for you and your children.  Somehow this ideal has become this billion dollar monstrosity of sanctimony and arrogance, and we have allowed that to happen, and only we can stop it.

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2 Responses to “How I Came To Hate The NCAA”

  1. Well done. All too often the NCAA punishes student athletes, coaches, and fans that were never a part of the rules violations, whether those rules are fair, or even reasonable, or not. I also love college sports, and I have more and more these past few years been turning my attention to smaller college sports.

    • I think, the turn for me was when it started to appear that the rules they were enforcing were about protecting the NCAA and its version of amateurism without protecting the actual amateur athletes. That is what bothers me most.

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