Thursday, August 29, 2013

I hope Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit cleans the NCAA's clock. The Johnny Manziel fiasco.

If you've been a long-time reader, you know that I have ethical qualms with the way America runs its minor-league "amateur" sports programs through its university system-- contrary to what the rest of the world does. I question what value it adds to schools and society (see posts here, here, here, and here), the use of tax dollars and illusion of non-profit status to promote the sport, the hypocrisy of profiting the NCAA's profiting off of players who are not allowed to do so themselves (here and here), and the ethics of demanding more of 19 year olds than you demand of yourself. As someone who used to teach undergraduates, I question the ethics of forcing low-income minorities to undergo grueling physical labor, discarding them if they get injured, in order to receive a college education-- which is often watered down to so little value as to be of no use to them. I recommend watching the PBS Frontline series on Ed O'Bannon's lawsuit and following other articles in the links above.

The latest icing on the cake is the Johnny Manziel fiasco. Two recommended readings: David Wetzel's reaction:
"Johnny Manziel was punished – lightly, but still punished – by the NCAA because he knew someone was going to make money off his likeness and he didn't stop it.
It sure is a good thing the NCAA is cracking down on that kind of activity from nefarious entities interested in profiting off 'Johnny Football' T-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, etc., not to mention using his image to promote a commercial product to be sold … you know, nefarious entities like the NCAA, the SEC, the BCS, Texas A&M, Nike, EA Sports, CBS, ESPN, Yahoo! Sports and heaven knows how many other 'partner' businesses."

Also read this piece by CBS's Houston affiliate on how the NCAA basically got blackmailed into narrowing down Manziel's punishment:
"The source said prominent names from virtually every major football conference were found to have had a relationship at some level with the brokers.
The NCAA hence was faced with the prospect of damning evidence involving widespread alleged improprieties perhaps becoming public. It would have been the latest of the NCAA’s numerous embarrassing moments and might have forced the NCAA to rule on numerous cases that spanned several years similar to Manziel’s."

But every fall, people "renew their vows" with college sports-- eager to watch young men beat their brains out (ie: damage their brains) for fleshly entertainment and the kinsmanship it gives with their tribe. I have never heard this ritual, and the dollars (private and tax) that flow to it, questioned in a pulpit. I see no Senators giving speeches on the floor threatening to take away the NCAA's tax-exempt status. All I see is fans willing to turn a blind eye to the unethical nature of it all-- or even defend it-- in order to satiate their appetite and be vindicated that "our team" is better than "your team." I just really wish it were different. I really wish Christians, who care about morality and ethics, human trafficking, poverty, and education to start waking up to the realities of what the NCAA is all about and the damage it causes, and start demanding change in our institutions-- and to put their money and mouths where their convictions should also be. 

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