Ralph Nader: “An entire industry has developed in the youth sports arena — club teams, personal trainers, etc. — to prey on families’ dreams of an athletic scholarship.”

March 24th, 2011

Wow. I think I agree with Ralph Nader, kinda. I have blogged before about the farce that is college athletics (see here, here, and here).

From ESPN:

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is calling for the elimination of college athletic scholarships, saying the move is necessary to “de-professionalize” college athletes.

“As we near the exciting conclusion of ‘March Madness’ — which would more accurately be described as the 2011 NCAA Professional Basketball Championships — it’s time we step back and finally address the myth of amateurism surrounding big-time college football and basketball in this country,” said Nader, whose League of Fans is proposing that the scholarships be replaced with need-based financial aid. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the proposal Thursday, ahead of its official release. . . .

Nader, a former presidential candidate, argued that his plan would also help reduce the “win-at-all-costs” mentality in high schools, by reducing the incentive of college scholarships.

“An entire industry has developed in the youth sports arena — club teams, personal trainers, etc. — to prey on families’ dreams of an athletic scholarship,” he said. “The lure of the elusive athletic scholarship is the primary — sometimes the only — marketing tool these youth sports entrepreneurs use.”

“We’ll use all the levers,” Nader said. “We’ll use the parents of athletes who’ve been mistreated and sick, and forced to play when they’re injured.”

Right on Ralph! College athletics are really unsafe at any speed. What does he propose?

Nader said that colleges should either integrate athletics into the educational mission by eliminating college scholarships, or, “openly acknowledge the professionalism in big-time college sports, remove the tax-exempt status currently given to athletic departments, and make universities operate them as unrelated businesses.”

I have a different solution than Nader. Replace these “scholarships” with a simple paycheck. Pay these professional athletes–that is what they are–for their labor. If they decide to go to classes, let them earn an academic scholarship like the rest of the students. Let’s see how that works out. Or maybe they can pay their own┬átuition, borrowing against their future earnings (if any) as professional athletes.