What SHOULD Be the Future of College Athletics?

Time was, back when I was in college, lo those many, many years ago, sports were extremely important to me. As a UCLA student when Lew Alcindor (later to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) was about to begin his varsity basketball career (after being ineligible, as were ALL freshmen at that time – a great rule) I spent a long, painful night in line at Pauly Pavilion in order to get one of the limited number of student season ticket passes. I played intramural baseball and basketball, and pick-up games every Sunday through college and law school. Today, I see sports in a very different light, filtered through years of billions of dollars changing the nature of both professional and “amateur” sports, and now being better able to see how sports impacts real life, and how it should be impacting real life.

The recent ruling that apparently entitles college athletes to unionize has shed new light on the growing problems permeating college athletics, a small part of which I discussed in my recent post about the impact of NBA riches on young kids giving up their education in

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order to pursue a dream of fame and riches. All this just skims the surface of the inherent problems in college athletics. You also have people like PAC-12 Commissioner Larry Scott writing editorial pieces about how such changes will destroy college athletics.

Scott is a self-serving jerk who has one and only one goal

in life – to make money for PAC-12 schools. This involves a couple of specific methods that includes kissing the collective asses of big-time college donors and depriving fans and alumni of PAC-12 schools from tv access to games with his disgusting PAC-12 Network that is unavailable to the majority of viewers interested in watching PAC-12 games. He doesn’t care, so long as the checks come in.

Way back when, I thought a lot about the structure of college athletics, and one point always bothered me, back as long ago as when I was applying to colleges: Why, if you can play a sport, should you be accepted to a quality school without having to meet the academic qualifications that are required for other students? Secondarily to that, I also thought about the fact that those “student”-athletes received scholarships, while a whole

lot of really smart kids either had to pay their way or bypass schools that they could have attended, or bypass college altogether.

Eventually these are the conclusions I came to, only slightly modified in the years since I first thought about all this. While I still live and die for the Bruins and their success and failures on the

fields and in the arenas, the whole concept of this pseudo-professional system of college sports is absurd:

1. Colleges should not admit ANY student who does not meet regular academic qualifications – no special preference for those with athletic ability; and

2. There should be no such thing as an athletic scholarship.

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If regularly admitted students want to play sports, fine, field teams out of their numbers. There will be no shortage of players. Alumni can adjust to rooting for their schools and competitive teams composed of students, not aspiring NBA and NFL players. Let the NBA and the NFL set up their own minor league systems to train their future players, at their expense, not paid for by taxpayers through their public institutions of higher learning, and not by the largess of

private schools and their egotistical donors.

Society needs no more examples of people like Jerry Buss who gave millions to his usc trojan brain surgeon alma mater for specific purposes such as the hiring of the football coach he and they wanted. What we need are people like Anaheim Ducks’ owner Henry Samueli, who while a sports person, made nine-figure donations to UCLA and UC Irvine to pay for building and expansions in those schools’ Engineering departments and medical schools. Samueli can enjoy the inner peace of the personal knowledge that he has helped infinite numbers of students become important members of society, making real contributions in engineering and medicine. Buss, on the other hand, went to his grave with a few more dollars in his estate after he used his influence with Scott to change a usc football game score well after the game was over in order to win a sizable bet.

Education, and especially public education, are in crisis. It’s time for a drastic change.

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