March in America has two big events that make it culturally significant: St. Patrick’s Day, which is an excuse to wear green, and NCAA March Madness, televised collegiate basketball. NCAA March Madness is one of the biggest money-making sports events of the year, raking in millions and millions of dollars, which makes it all the more strange that the athletes who make the money do not see a single cent.
The athletes – or, to use the NCAA’s own official term, “student-athletes” – work tirelessly to make money for rich men who seek only to get richer. This comes at the expense of their education and time they could be using to find an actual job, which, for some, is a big deal.
A lot of basketball players are black, and the ones who need financial aid are often on sports scholarships. Their families simply do not have the money to send them to college without scholarships. The idea behind accepting a sports scholarship is that it will lead to a better life for the student.
However, this usually is not the case. Student-athletes spend the majority of their time focused on their sport and are unable to efficiently study. Often, this leads to student-athletes not getting as much education as they deserve by the time they graduate.
“I don’t think it’s fair to expect so much from students. I’m a student and I’d be really stressed,” said junior Parineeka Awarsamol.
Only a little over one in 100 students will continue on to the professional leagues, which means that the majority of student-athletes must rely on their college education and not their basketball skill going forward. The NCAA, however, does not concern itself with student-athletes after they have served their purpose, which is to stuff the pockets of the people running the operation.
College basketball coaches make at least a few million dollars a year. Additionally, they are allowed sponsorships, a right not granted to student-athletes. While the coaches are compensated for coordinating games, the players are not, despite actually playing in them.
“It’s stupid that coaches get all that and players get nothing. I’d hate that,” said junior Lauren Ramirez.
What this leads to is a glut of people who played basketball in college that need to go out and find a job quickly to help out their families.
To add to this, more than a few student-athletes will get injured. There is no compensation for injuries, which will often cause the player to lose his scholarship and drop out if he comes from a low-income household. If the NCAA was held accountable to pay workman’s compensation, athletes would be taken care of for life, but collegiate basketball is not technically professional.
The fact that March Madness is not seen as professional basketball is the ultimate problem.
The players who participate in March Madness are expected, by their coaches and the people who watch the games, to play as though they are professionals. The people at the top make too much money for them to claim this is not professional, yet they still do so because March Madness involves students.
There is something fundamentally wrong with someone making billions of dollars off of someone else’s hard work and refusing to pay them, no matter their circumstance.
What are your thoughts on the NCAA’s exploitation of athletes for March Madness? Is this something more people should concern themselves with?