A Modest Madness Proposal: Walk Off the Court

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Slate's Josh Levin has an idea: at the moment of tip-off for the first game in this year's March Madness, the players should walk off the court in protest over the NCAA's refusal to compensate players while making huge amounts of money from TV and merchandising deals. We discuss his proposal, and whether you'll be watching the games through a corporate lens.

Looking for alternatives to the big-money NCAA bracket? The Brian Lehrer Show is locked in a battle with Studio 360 in KPCC's Public Radio Madness bracket. Vote for us now! And, of course, there's WNYC's Bodeca Cat Bracket. We are still looking for pictures submissions as we try to find NYC's best bodega cat.

Comments [12]

thatgirl from manhattan

Steve from Manhattan - Comparing these athletes/ersatz students to those working through medical residencies is a non-starter. M.D.s completing residencies are concluding a key part of their medical training in a highly-supervised environment; they're not doctors performing de facto "free" labor; the residency is part of the qualification. And comparing NCAA players to those fulfilling a corporate internship is also ridiculous; interns usually have completed their degrees, wherein college athletes only get a degree IF they play for a full four years plus without interruption or injury, and IF they complete the work for a degree, which most of them have no time for. College athletes are put on a completely different academic course than those matriculating, and few earn a diploma, working toward professional recruitment to the leagues, rather than prioritizing the diploma.

I daresay if WNYC and other places of work allow squares/betting for March Madness, they, too contribute to the problem. Until the consumers of the broadcasts and corporate sponsors tune out/take a stand for the players, this will trundle on, unabated.

Hats off to Levin and others who call for radical reform of this money-generating machine.

Mar. 20 2014 12:24 PM
Linell from Brooklyn and Louisiana

The term "student athlete" is a ruse. The college athletes I've taught were given the choice of being athletes first and foremost, or leave.
After teaching three in a college with a football team (in Louisiana) I learned that athletes do not get paid by a 'free education.' They don't have the time to study other students do, nevermind partake in the kind of socializing and events that are presumably part of the 'college experience.' They don't even get to choose their own classes, much of the time, because their schedules are so packed.
I had one student who had two concussions in one semester.
Their shot at playing for the pros is miniscule.
They will leave college without the kind of experience non athletes have, no time in the pros, and seriously injured in some way at a young age. It is exploitation.

Mar. 20 2014 12:08 PM
ROSE from CT

Very few athletes can take advantage of the almost free education while playing basket ball at that level.

Mar. 20 2014 12:00 PM
BK from Hoboken

This is a great article about how to balance this situation. Only a select few players really bring in the money. The author states, correctly in my opinion, that individually the players aren't that important. For instance, Ohio State football fans are going to watch the games and buy tickets regardless of which players are on the team. The author proposes letting players get paid for sponsorships. That way those top top players can make their market value wage.
Best solution I have seen recently.

Mar. 20 2014 11:59 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Well said Leo, the NBA should have a bona fide junior league. The "d-league" is a joke. Hopefully, the new commissioner will change that.

Could you imagine Serena Williams, Tiger Woods, or Messi, having to spend 4 - years in college in order to go pro?

Mar. 20 2014 11:59 AM
thatgirl from manhattan

Scholarships, schmolarships! Read up on the data on how many players actually graduate/earn a diploma.

Wouldn't it be more effective if we, as an audience, threatened to boycott the NCAA broadcasts?

Mar. 20 2014 11:57 AM
Steve from Manhattan

Of course exploitation is wrong, but it's the American way and these guys on their professional quest to make their millions will not bite the hand that might feed them. Don't many of us take on unpaid internships and do medical residencies and other such free labor in order to advance to our own professional status?? The difference is that here, there are such big paydays for the overlords...

Mar. 20 2014 11:55 AM

...and, don't you just love the idiots that say that they are getting a free education. they don't have time for much of an education,since the time spent in and around these college programs IS so labor intensive.

Mar. 20 2014 11:54 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

And the kicker..It's bad enough, that college athletes don't get paid. They can't do any individual endorsement deals. Ridiculous!!!

Mar. 20 2014 11:54 AM

I thought Universities were meant for learning. This whole culture around University sports needs to stop. They might as well create a separate junior league ala the NBA and pay the players, but they should not be payed if they are attending a university.

Mar. 20 2014 11:53 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

College sports, especially basketball and football, is the biggest theft of labor in the US. New Slaves...

Soccer players in Europe, if they are good enough, make millions by the time they are in their early 20's.

If you are good at doing something, that others are making money on, you should not do it for free.

Mar. 20 2014 11:49 AM

i'm 1000% in with this idea.. it's a feudal corporate welfare system. the NCAA is an enabler of an institution that need be dismantled,now!

Mar. 20 2014 11:48 AM

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