It seems pretty official that Johnny Manziel is an overprivileged idiot. I have yet to hear somebody say otherwise. I have heard some people say that the rule he broke is not a good rule, but nobody is shedding any tears for a guy so blessed at throwing a football and whose family is richer than God. Long story short, in this instance, he full well knew the rules and decided to skirt them because he thought he could get away with it. From everything I hear of the video evidence, that is the only way to interpret it.
But what about the issue in general? Should college athletes be getting a slice of the pie? Should they be able to benefit from who they are and what they do?
It’s a sticky situation, but it seems the simple answer is “not any more than they already do.” Seriously. How much more do you want? Especially for the guys we’re hearing about right now, the stars of college who are pulling a full ride. You’re getting a degree for free. If you don’t take advantage of that as an athlete, that’s on the athlete, not the school. That alone really should be enough. I was lucky enough that my dad was able to get me and my brother through private college without us having to pay back any loans.* Most students are not so lucky.
*My family is most certainly not richer than God, though. If my family had Manziel money, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t be doing low-end IT.
So, yeah, doesn’t that seem like advantage enough? To not have to pay a dime for school, and even moreso, not having to pay, say, a thousand dollars a month afterwards to pay back those loans? No? Well, it’s a good thing that college athletes also have access to the best tutors and educational programs around, so they have the best shot at entering grad school, often in very good programs, if they decide to go that route. If an athlete doesn’t really feel like he’s the academic type after four (or more) years in undergrad? Well, you’d be hard pressed to find more well-known college graduates (or students in general) than high-level athletes. They’ll have their pick of a lot of jobs just because of who they are.
I have an example here. My mother-in-law worked as a recruiter for businesses around Lafayette.* One company she worked with had some sort of sales position open. The owner of the company said they would pay double the commission if she could deliver Bobby Riddell to them. And this was Bobby Buckets! Not exactly Robbie Hummel or Glenn Robinson. How many college graduates would give their right arm for that kind of exposure and publicity? How nice would it be to just stroll into companies, simply give them your name, and watch them fawn over you?
*It was a little more than that, but that’s a good enough explanation for this story.
My goodness. Just how are athletes disadvantaged here? Because they can’t work outside their sport? I don’t even think that’s accurate. They may not be able to work for the school, or doing ESH as they called it at Wabash. But, as far as I know, as long as they didn’t land a job due to their athletic abilities and are paid a comparable wage to other people doing the same job.
No, it seems to me that most of this really comes down to good old greed. Athletes already have enough inherent advantages, most especially ones at big universities, which would be the ones actually able to pay their athletes. Yes, BCS-type schools pull in ridiculous money for athletics. Yes, they should probably be putting more of that money back into the school instead of in the pockets of coaches* or shiny new palaces for their athletes to use. But, that is what it is, and doesn’t affect what athletes see over the average student.
*Especially coaches bought out from bad contracts.
If you can’t be bothered to actually graduate from the school that’s paying your way, and you squander the chance to give the public a good impression of you before you hit the workforce, that’s your own doing. You can’t blame the NCAA for your failings. You can blame the NCAA for making money selling player’s jerseys, that was totally hypocritical and could well cost the NCAA their lawsuit against Ed O’Bannon. To say athletes are exploited takes a lot of mental gymnastics that I’m just not prepared to do.