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Is the NCAA sports system flawed?

 The state of college sports has been in a flux of late. Many question the legitimacy of NCAA practices and how college athletes seem to have less rights than that of other students. I know many youth baseball players entering the latter part of their high school careers wonder about the college sports system. What can the future athletes of the world expect from the educators that are supposedly “setting an example” for them?

NCAA logo (Courtesy of gorunners.com)

Besides being a college student myself, I’ve been watching the state of NCAA sports over the last five years. Many programs have been put on probation because players have received “benefits” from people outside the school. For example running back Reggie Bush from USC received a car from academic sponsors. Because of this Bush lost his Heisman Trophy award and USC was put on probation for a few years. USC football players were not allowed to participate in the college football bowl games.

I ask myself why should the students be punished when it was Reggie Bush who received the benefits? Why is NCAA governing body so determined to punish the innocent when it was Reggie Bush who “broke the rules?”

I am hesitant to say that Reggie Bush broke the rules. Maybe it’s me as a person with common sense, but isn’t the purpose of a college to help students succeed in life? The NCAA has become so consumed with balancing the playing field that they’ve failed to see the bigger picture. So Reggie Bush received a car? How is that a competitive imbalance?

Reggie Bush was a star player from USC and work hard to make his dreams come true. I understand that the NCAA prides themselves on giving full scholarships to players. They feel that the scholarship should represent the payment for the player. NCAA officials add that the “value of an education is the player’s true reward.” I’m sorry to disappoint the world of academia, but this is not always the case. Players don’t always go to college to take learn a special science or work on string theory. They are there to start their careers; whether it be in sports, math, science, history, etc. Academic leaders need to realize that college is flawed; not everyone in college wants the 4.0 GPA. It’s a sad, but real truth. A college experience is what the student makes of it. Punishing college athletes for using their gifts will not change that. If anything, it will make them avoid the college ranks even more.

While sports outlets will often cover collegiate athletes going to the pros, it is a rarity that players make millions of dollars. Reggie Bush is the exception to the rule. Most collegiate athletes will sadly never make the pros and the millions of dollars that come with it. So why is it a crime that college athletes can get an extra $200 dollars for appearances or attending charity events? Why is it a crime to have collegiate athletes earn more money in the off season? There are so many rules restricting college athletes that I often wonder why these rules are there in the first place?

Now don’t get me wrong. I am a firm believer that an education is important. Everyone, if given the opportunity should go to college. (My own opinion, not necessarily yours) However people in the academia world need to slow their egos down. I know that most people (not all) in the academia world views sports as useless. They believe that an education in the classroom is the only thing that will allow children to become successful adults. That is not true. Education in the classroom is only part of the college experience. Experiencing the real world and learning how to use your gifts in life is an essential balance. Why should college athletes be punished for using their gifts in the real world?

For example, I have a friend who is a music major. (remaining nameless) He is on a full scholarship in college. While on that full scholarship, he is allowed to play music for his school and for the outside world. He can make money outside of college playing music.

Now that money he’s making is not millions of dollars. However it is enough to buy food and get his mother a birthday gift. (In addition to other things.) Now I also have a friend who is a Division 1 football player. He doesn’t have enough money to buy food on a road game. And you know what? He isn’t an NFL caliber player. He is one of the players going to college for something other than football. And he isn’t allowed to make money off off football, his name or his brand. Why is there a difference between the two? College is meant to teach us how to use our gifts; not how to constrict them until the NCAA has made their money off of them!

Collegiate teams like USC make millions upon millions of dollars because of their students’ brand. However these students are punished if they see so much as a penny. I am not deterring any student from a college education. That is not the goal of this piece. I am simply telling the story of some athletes. Education is a great thing, but students deserve the opportunity to use their talents in the real world. Why should the NCAA committee, a group of business men decide that students shouldn’t use their gifts for a better future?

Keep all your options open! (image courtesy of blogs.adobe.com)

I know many college students wondering if they should go to college or start their pro careers? My best advice for you is to listen to those who care about you the most. Don”t listen to the College deans about college athletics being a “privilege not a right.” Listen to those who you trust and who know the best. If they think college is best for you, trust them and your own judgment. If they don’t, then follow your dreams to the pros. College is important but don’t sacrifice your own options for what seems right now. Be informed and make the best decision possible.

New Jersey Baseball & New Jersey Baseball Online are your original source for stories about the human interest side of baseball. Coverage ranges from travel team baseball and showcase tournaments to girls’ softball and women’s fast pitch to recruits and prospects; health & nutrition; sportsmanship; the best batting cages & baseball training academies, women in baseball, youth baseball baseball history, sports officiating and umpiring, field maintenance, mens' amateur baseball, and many others. NJB is also your first and best source for baseball rules and interpretations through our unique Ask The Ump feature.


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