Final Four: Does the Plantation Return to Atlanta this Saturday April 6th?

By Comrade Read

As college sports fans gear up for the culmination of the annual march madness NCAA division 1 men’s basketball tournament, this year to be decided at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, we offer two articles by Dave Zirin on the hyper-exploitation of top flight college athletes. The article paints the NCAA as a good ol’ boys network with corporate sponsorship, making millions, if not billions, off the labor of student athletes.

Last week, Kevin Ware of the Louisville Cardinals, suffered one the most horrific injuries I’ve ever seen on a basketball court. It was so shocking that CBS executives ordered the network to stop replaying the footage as Kevin received emergency care. How much will Mr. Ware receive for this game where he fractured his tibia in half to the point it was left dangling off the end of his knee? Nothing, not one penny, unless you’re like the good ol’ boys who feel that the scholarship he receives is “enough”.  With no income and very little time to find a part time job, these unpaid student workers often resort to taking money and benefits from boosters and fans of the school they play for.

Click this link for more context on the injury of Kevin Ware.

Terelle Pryor, formerly of Ohio State, now a quarterback for the Oakland Raiders – exchanged some sports equipment and jerseys, his own property unless you ask the NCAA, for some tatoo work. And because this happened while he was still working for Ohio State, he was kicked off the team and forced to give up his scholarship. For Terelle, who was planning on entering the NFL draft, this wasn’t overly devastating, but for the Ohio State football team he left behind, they were forced to deal with NCAA sanctions which put them out of contention for a national championship for a specified length of time.

That is the nature of the cartel formerly known as the NCAA. It is high time for these student workers/athletes to have an organization that represents their interest as students who work and generate profits for their University and this cartel (NCAA). Just like Graduate School Assistants (GSA) in the University of California recently organized under the United Auto Workers Union (UAW), student athletes need to unionize in order to demand proper compensation and benefits for their labor. Until this a reality, its safe to say the plantation will definitely be returning to Atlanta this weekend and every sports weekend of major NCAA sports. Tune in,  and check out the link to the article below for more context on this “wicked” (Desmond Howard quote) and hyper-exploitative system.,0

2 responses to “Final Four: Does the Plantation Return to Atlanta this Saturday April 6th?

  1. Where is the commentary about how social pressures drive youth to commit and dedicate time to master these sports in order to escape the ‘hood? Where is the commentary about how if you cant assimilate you get left behind (this is what happen to pryor) but if you can assimilate you allowed to break rules and it’s often encouraged…Why no commentary about how the Football Coach of Penn State being fired for a sex scandal can cause a riot on campus? Or what role does the clearinghouse play in all this (especially when discussing unionizing student athletes? Also the minor league thing proposed in the article seems a little sketch and not really effective… And why would a union help? look at the NFL and NBA and their unions. There only function seems to be to create exploitation with consent. I would to further this discussion however…But I think we need to start with the simple idea that the NCAA and all colleges are capitalist institutions first and foremost, and then realize the student athlete struggle is the students struggle is the teachers struggle is the janitors struggle…you can’t have one with out the others

    • @ ShadesofSilence

      (these views and opinions are my own based on my experiences in the eduation and sporting world, they are not necessarily shared by the collective)

      Thank you for generating a list of important questions related to the NCAA exploitation of student athletes. Definitely agree the NCAA and colleges/universities are integral institutions of capitalism. As a college athlete (baseball) I witnessed students being pushed by their parents and coaches to “commit and dedicate time to master these sports” , but I think the “escape the hood” bit is part of a larger problem of the illusions of social mobility.

      Many schools, public and private and charter, promote this illusion as an absolute truth. That is, if working class students, in poor areas, are willing to dedicate their lives to working hard and following the rules demanded by their respective schools, then they have just as much a chance as the students of the middle and ruling class to go to college, land a lucrative position and ultimately “escape the hood”. To me, this a ruling class framework being promoted by mostly white middle class teachers on to the minds of working class students. A lot of the gifted athletes in “the hood” see sports as a way to get a scholarship without having to focus on their learning. Far too often I’ve seen coaches and teachers pampering these kids to the point where they are given grades and continually passed on without compiling the necessary tools to navigate higher ed.

      I had a friend who used to tutor football players at a UC, every now and then I would assist with some of the students, most of these young men had extremely low reading and writing skills. With more time these students have the potential to improve, but with a ridiculous portion of their day reserved for football, this is not a possibility for the large majority of these athletes. Considering this and add the fact that a very small minority of athletes make it to the professional level “escape the hood” quickly becomes a “break from the hood”. When the scholarship runs dry, most college student-athletes face the same outlook as non-athlete students = find a job. The only problem is the athletes have already been working a full-time job with no pay and no benefits, and they have significantly less time and opportunities (internships, etc.) to set themselves up post-graduation. At this point the escape route often leads full circle back to the hood.

      All that said, I completely agree with “the student athlete struggle is the students struggle is the teachers struggle is the janitors struggle…you can’t have one with out the others”.

      Imagining the possibilities of all students, faculty etc, or at least a large majority, participating in struggle that includes the shutdown of major sporting events, which in turn would cost the ruling class millions of dollars, its a must that organizers find a way for this to become a reality. Here is where the importance of a union comes into play. Despite all the problems with unions, and there are many (for context all are encouraged to check out the union debates that have been waged on this blog for over a month), I don’t see college athletes organizing themselves in a unit with the capability of withdrawing their labor power without first organizing for: monetary compensation, job protections, reduction of classload & scholarship guarantees, etc etc. I feel unionizing and then making demands on the NCAA and Univ. admins is a better framework than waiting for the NCAA to take up the matter of compensation and then reacting when the offer is a pittance compared to the wealth generated by their labor. Unionizing won’t completely end this hyper-exploitation but it could serve as an important first step for them to make quality contributions to college/university struggle. And I completely disagree with, “There only function seems to be to create exploitation with consent.” Unions are organizations of workers, they do not create exploitation. (I wouldn’t be surprised if the union bureaucracy exploit the employees who work directly for the union) But Bosses/Capitalists create exploitation. Of course, unions have been known to rubber stamp exploitation, and if that is what you meant but just typed it wrong, then I would say you’re on the right track in being heavily critical of present-day unions, and you should definitely check out the union debates found on this blog. Not sure what you think of the players union for the NBA and NFL, but the last contract negotiated by the NBA and the players’ union resulted in a 6 billion dollar transfer of wealth to the owners. This was a horrible decision, but for the players, my guess is the desire to play lead to them to sign on to such a ludicrous deal.

      Just a few more points. Sports in general, college or pros, tends to be an opiate for the masses. Who has time to go to a protest against police murder when the playoffs are on? Sports also tend to create micro-nationalisms. This creates situations like the one at Penn State where these sheep-like fans went out and rioted in support of Joe Paterno who allegedly covered for his pedophile assistant coach for years and years. I’m not saying don’t root for your team, but if the coach is covering for a child molesting assistant coach, then the only reason for a riot would have been if the former didn’t lose his job. Unfortunately, sports creates uncritical followers who spend countless hours watching/gambling/fantasizing on their respective teams. Consider, the biggest riot in the Bay Area in recent history was when the giants won the world series in 2010. There were thousands of people tearing up downtown SF because their team won. These actions are so a-political… the police tend to ignore or wait out the rioters while making few arrests. What a world!

      Hopefully this provides some of the commentary you were looking for. Not sure why you feel minor leagues are sketch. The NBA, MLB, NHL all have minor leagues. Players are still exploited but at least they do receive a wage for their labor. The best go on to the pros, the good players make a career of it while their bodies hold up, and less than good probably move on to another line of work. As for Pryor, i mentioned his situation to highlight the level of hypocrisy from the NCAA. While raking in millions and billions off these athletes they have the nerve to suspend a player and the football team from a chance to win a championship – because he traded some gear for tatoos. I’m not sure I agree with equating assimilation and breaking rules/taking bribes, but i’m open to be persuaded.

      thanks again for your critical inquiries

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