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NCAA Amateurism Law: Ethical or Injustice
Kyle Williams
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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With finance becoming the major supporting backbone of most companies today, a closer look at colleges and universities is needed. While colleges and universities bring in money from student tuition, campus stores, interest from student loans, and parking fines, the largest income is generated by the athletic programs. Athletic programs produce money from ticket sales, apparel, concessions, and nationally televised advertisement for their colleges or universities. However, the student-athletes are the people who produce all of this money: "The empirical results suggest that a premium college player generates over $500,000 in annual revenues for his team" (Brown 671). With over 20 student-athletes on every division I, II, and III team, and colleges and universities having multi-sport athletic programs, players are giving millions and millions of dollars to their colleges and universities, without ever receiving a penny in return for their hard work. The purpose of this essay is to explore different areas of the student-athlete and the revenue they generate for the colleges and universities they represent. Robert W. Brown responds to the amount of money a particular student-athlete is worth:

Over a four-year college career a premium player could therefore generate over two million dollars in revenues for his college team. In any case, the value of an athletic scholarship package is limited to $20,000 annually, suggesting that substantial economic rents are transferred from the premium college players to other agents. . . . The estimated rent of a premium player is defined as the difference between the revenue generated by the player and his effective compensation (i.e., value of a scholarship and costs of supporting a player). (679,681)

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, known as the NCAA, has strict laws for the student-athlete. One rule that has always been heavily enforced is that of amateurism. The amateurism law was created in 1906 and a web site states that law:

. . . the offering of inducements to players to enter colleges or universities because of their athletics abilities and of supporting or maintaining players while students on account of their athletics abilities, either by athletics organizations, individual alumni, or otherwise, indirectly or directly; the singling out of prominent athletic students of preparatory schools and endeavoring to influence them to enter a particular college or university . . . either on the part of the contestants, the coaches, their assistants or the student body. (Hawes)

Though there have been several minor adjustments over the years, this rule is the basis of finance for the student-athlete. One of the most argued about changes to the NCAA amateurism law is the allowance for an athlete to be professional in one sport and maintain his or her amateur status in another sport. Originally, the NCAA did not want to permit an amateur athlete to declare him or herself as professional in one sport and amateur in another because they feared that this particular athlete would have an advantage over the other amateur athletes. Alonzo Stagg of the University of Chicago argued the allowing a professional athlete to play an amateur sport would "'break down the amateur spirit of college athletics by passing this rule, and it is my prophecy that . . . the passing of this rule would be an unceasing catastrophe'" (qtd. in Hawes). This opposition was eventually reproved in 1974.

Jeremy Bloom is an excellent example of how this law affects the student-athlete. Bloom is a 22-year-old wide receiver and special teams return man for the Colorado Buffaloes, a Division I football team. Bloom holds several collegiate football records at the University of Colorado. However, he is not your typical student-athlete. While most college athletes watch the Winter Olympics on television, Jeremy Bloom participates as a member of the United States Olympic Ski Team. A web site argues that in 2002, Bloom "became the youngest person ever to win the World Grand Prix Title and the third ever American. [He is also] the defending World Champion in Moguls Skiing" (Bloom). By NCAA law, Bloom is not allowed to accept payment from anyone, nor can he endorse any products if he plans to continue his football career at Colorado University. However, most athletes get their trip paid for by sponsors and by endorsing ski apparel for different companies. Jeremy Bloom responds in his testimony to the Judicial Committee Members: due to my desire to play college football, I relinquished all of my endorsements and enrolled at the University of Colorado. . . . While I could sacrifice, in competitive terms, to be under-funded in 2003 and 2004, I was certain that with the Olympic Games looming only 2 years away that I could not afford to continue in this manner and have a chance to achieve my objective of winning an Olympic Gold Medal for my country in 2006 (Bloom).

As suggested by Eugene Glader in his book, Amateurism and Athletics, "This drive conflicts with the idea of an amateur athlete being a person 'who engages in sport solely for the pleasure and physical, mental, and social benefits he derives therefrom and to whom sport is nothing more than a recreation" (177). For this reason of self-promotion, Bloom was denied his eligibility from participation in college sports ever again (Bloom).

There are many different sports in colleges and universities, such as: football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, swimming, equestrian, track and field, tennis, golf, rugby, lacrosse and cross-country; all of which can be dangerous at times. However, the most dangerous seems to be football, as recorded by Frederick O. Mueller: "Traumatic brain injury is common in contact sports, with an estimated 250,000 concussions occurring every year in football alone" (312). Football players are very prone to being injured due to the violent nature of the game of football. A premium college football player will spend approximately four to five years in college depending on whether or not they took a "redshirt" season. Further, while they are in college they each produce millions of dollars for their university. The probability of them being injured is very likely, which in turn will reduce the number of years they will play in the National Football League (NFL), in which they get paid.

Student-athletes are constantly recovering from injuries. As researched by Leddy, Lambert, and Ogles: "Immediately following injury, the athletes experienced elevated levels of frustration, depression, and anger. These changes in mood remained unchanged for about a month following injury for the most seriously injured athletes" (348). Stephen N. Macciocchi slightly differs in his studies about injured college athletes: "Findings from these studies have been generally consistent and suggest that concussive injuries in competitive American football can cause time-limited neuropsychological and neurobehavioral problems (303). These ideas that athletes suffer from certain mental pressures after an injury correlate to the views held by Gotwals, Dunn, and Wayment. They argue: there are two types of perfectionism:

. . . maladaptive perfectionism . . . and . . . adaptive perfectionism. Maladaptive perfectionists have a tendency to set excessively high personal standards for performance and are preoccupied with and overly critical of their mistakes . . .. . . . maladaptive perfectionists also have a strong need to avoid failure and often feel vulnerable to the possibility of public criticism. (18)
These athletes endure more pain and anguish mentally than physically. Though their physical injuries may be serious, the student-athlete is worried more about the time he or she will not be able to play and whether or not they will be able to return.

A great example of this is Jason White. At the beginning of White's redshirt sophomore year he appeared have the starting quarterback job. However, his sophomore season came to an end due to an ACL tear in his knee. The next year, White had the starting job again and looked to be in complete control, but once again he was injured, this time the ACL was torn in his other knee. A web site responds to the tragic injuries of Jason White by stating: "Anterior Cruciate Ligament tears in each of his knees was sure to end Jason White's life as a football player, yet he has defied everyone's expectations and returned [for his senior season] as Oklahoma's quarterback and leader" (Gray). White went on to win the 2003 Heisman Trophy. This was not surprising to Czech, Burke, Joyner, and Hardy who argue: "Results showed male Anglo children to be the most win/loss-oriented and valued athletic ability the most" (138).

These players are not just athletes; they are students first. Even though, athletes have the reputation of being "dumb jocks," every college student-athlete has to work for what they are given. Julie Cheville, a former player, tutor, and coach writes the response of one of her players about an incident with a professor: "When I went up to my teacher and handed him my travel excuse form, I'm afraid of how he would react. I was trying to see how he was looking. I know some them think, 'Oh, God, another basketball player. I've got to sign this sheet.' Now I'm worrying about how I'm gonna do in that class" (qtd. in Cheville 86). Because of these negative stereotypes, people have negative attitudes towards these particular students. As explained by Chris Baucom and Christopher D. Lantz in their article: "Prejudices against college student-athletes may be a consequence of the perceived incompatibility between the goals of big-time college athletic programs and the basic values of academic integrity and academic excellence in higher education" (266).

Though most college athletes are viewed as students who are given certain privileges, athletes could be the students who work the hardest for what they get. Most students have schoolwork; other students have schoolwork and jobs where they work 10-15 hours a week. On top of all the expected schoolwork, they are also expected to perform at practice and during the games. After which, they will start the process over again.

Works Cited

Baucom, Chris, and Christopher D. Lantz. "Faculty Attitudes toward Male Division II Student-Athletes." Journal of Sport Behavior 24.3 (2001): 265-76.

Bloom, Jeremy. Mr. Jeremy Bloom. U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee Testimony 14 Sept. 2004. 8 Oct. 2004 <http://www.house.gov/judiciary/bloom091404.htm>.

Brown, Robert W. "An Estimate of the Rent Generated by a Premium College Football Player." Economic Inquiry 31.4 (1993): 671-84.

Cheville, Julie. Minding the Body. What Student Athletes Know About Learning. Portsmouth: Boynton/Cook Publishers, Inc, 2001.

Czech, Daniel R., Kevin L. Burke, Barry A. Joyner, and Charles J. Hardy. "An Exploratory Investigation of Optimism, Pessimism and Sport Orientation Among NCAA Division I College Athletes." International Sports Journal 6.2 (2002): 136-45.

Glader, Eugene A. Amateurism and Athletics. West Point: Leisure P, 1978.

Gotwals, John K., John G. H. Dunn, and Heidi A. Wayment. "An Examination of Perfectionism and Self-Esteem in Intercollegiate Athletes." Journal of Sport Behavior 26.1 (2003): 17-38.

Gray, Philip. Moving Past a Major Injury 1 Oct. 2003. 28 Oct. 2004 <http://www.oudaily.com/vnews/display>.

Hawes, Kay. Debate on amateurism has evolved over time 3 Jan. 2000. 29 Oct. 2004 <http://www.ncaa.org/news/2000/20000103/active/3701n03.html>.

Leddy, Matthew H., Michael J. Lambert, and Benjamin M. Ogles. "Psychological Consequences of Athletic Injury Among High-Level Competitors." Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 65.4 (1994). ProQuest Direct. Oklahoma State University. 6 Oct. 2004 <http://80gateway.proquest.com/>.

Macciocchi, Stephen N., Jeffrey T. Barth, Lauren Littlefield, and Robert C. Cantu. "Multiple Concussions and Neuropsychological Functioning in Collegiate Football Players." Journal of Athletic Training 36.3 (2001): 303-06.

Mueller, Frederick O. "Catastrophic Head injuries in High School and Collegiate Sports." Journal of Athletic Training 36.3 (2001): 312-15.

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