Monday, November 26, 2012

Let College Athletes Major in Pro Sports

As an academic and a teacher and a parent and a citizen, I am absolutely opposed to the idea of paying college athletes for participation on their teams.  Even a monthly stipend is absurd, considering the "payment" in the form of room, board, and tuition they are already receiving.  And, for the major sports - predominantly basketball and football - the students are given a free platform on which to audition or "interview" for their first job.  Additionally, I am truly bothered by the clear lack of academia in the ranks of these athletes, and I would not be opposed to revoking tax-exempt status for colleges that fail to produce educated athletes who earn degrees.  They are tax exempt based on an "educational mission," and that is clearly far from reality.

However, there may be another option.

Last year, Jose Nocera of the New York Times posed the taboo idea - Let's Start Paying College Athletes.  Ultimately, Nocera took the issue to a new and intriguing level when he posed the idea of letting college athletes major in "professional sports."  This idea was intriguing on multiple levels, and it honestly addressed the issue in a way the NCAA - and NBA/NFL - never will.  Many athletes are at college simply to audition for pro teams.  They know it.  Their coaches know it.  Their future employers know it.  Their friends and family not only know, but endorse it.  And everyone else, including the government agencies that look the other way, know it as well.  Now, perhaps that idea is gaining credibility, as it has been posed again by David Pargman, a professor at Florida State University, who says End the Charade: Let College Athletes Major in Pro Sports.

Clearly, there is a business element to professional sports, and such "business" concepts could be studied in a manner that at least "resembles" higher education.  Both Nocera and Pargman argue that aspects of business and conditioning and critical thinking and psychology and marketing could be part of a college major that would serve future pro athletes.  We all know from the tabloid stories that many of these future businessmen could benefit from some classes in basic business contracts and personal finance.  Marketing classes aren't a bad idea either.  After the students complete the general  education requirements that all students take, they could declare for "Pro Athlete," rather than pretending to be a communications major.  And a series of legitimate classes refining skills they might need could be crafted.  It just might make sense.

Of course, there is a counter-argument presented by no less of an authority than the NCAA. However, Nocera and Parman are correct about one thing: it is a charade.  And perhaps it's time stop playing games with the world of education.


Anti Money Laundering said...

Gold medals aren't really made of gold. They're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.

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