Originally posted on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 9/19/13

College athletics have been one of America’s pastimes for more than a century, and some of the greatest moments of American sports have come as a result. Who can forget Kevin Moen plowing over a Stanford University tuba player en route to the end zone after five laterals? Or what about Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary in the final seconds that propelled Boston College to victory against Miami in 1984. Still too long ago? How about Trey Burke’s bomb from the parking lot that lifted the Michigan Wolverines to the NCAA finals just last year? College athletics are not only entertaining, but a fantastic outlet for young people to get involved in sports and lead an active lifestyle. Before I begin to rip apart the NCAA, I want to make it very clear that college athletics are fantastic- I played them. What isn’t fantastic is the fact that an organization holds “student athletes” hostage, leaving them no other option besides playing for free and generating the NCAA millions. $871.6 million to be exact. That’s right, the NCAA made nearly a billion dollars last year and paid exactly none of it to its main money-generating employees. But, some argue, the college game is purer without money! Once money is involved, the athletes become corrupt! First of all, if you think there isn’t “money involved” when it comes to college athletes, you must not watch much television, subscribe to a newspaper, or have access to the internet- there are scandals every year involving money. Secondly, have these people ever thought about that statement? I’m not sure I deny that money can corrupt people, but does the paycheck that comes in the mail from working 9-5 “corrupt” anyone? And what about the coaches? Do their multi-million dollar salaries corrupt the game? Players like Marcus Lattimore risk severe injury while receiving zero compensation, healthy or injured Just a thought. However, I’m not here to argue that collegiate athletes should be paid- I’ll leave that to the NCAA. What I’m here to argue is that athletes should be given the opportunity to be paid. In the pros. I really don’t care if college athletes get paid or not. As long as they know what they’re signing up for, let them play in exchange for a scholarship (a pretty good deal). But the fact that this collegiate play is required is archaic. It’s nothing more than the rich and powerful becoming even richer and more powerful. The NCAA has been operating this way for decades, and will continue to do so until Chief Justice John Roberts reads this piece (he and Clarence Thomas are big isportsweb fans) and realizes he needs to swing the hammer of justice down upon the NCAA’s greedy head. There is the simplest of solutions to the collegiate athlete conundrum, but the NCAA can’t handle it because it threatens the popularity of their game, thus threatening their millions in income that they need to buy Lamborghinis and gold toilets. Tell me this: in what other profession could a person be compensated for their talents immediately, but has to do it for free for three years because of labor laws. Please let me know in the comments section if you come up with one, but as creative as you may get, there isn’t one. If I am a competent bricklayer, for instance, I can probably go out and find work in one area of the country or another. If I so choose, I can go to bricklayer school and perhaps increase my marketability as a bricklayer, in turn demanding a higher salary. This is the basis for the free-market economy that the United States of America was founded on. Supply and demand: people have a demand for bricklaying, so they will pay for that service the same way they pay to consume sports. If the rules requiring athletes to attend college were eliminated, what would the negative side effects be? The world would not implode. Collegiate athletics would not cease to exist. NCAA president Mark Emmert would probably still make close to $2 million a year. And what’s more, men and women with talents that people pay to see could be fairly compensated for those talents. College sports would be just fine- coaches are great recruiters and they would show these athletes why they should come to campus and would surely have a plan for how to improve that athlete’s game, thus improving draft stock and monetary gains.  If the athlete was truly great out of high school, maybe they do forgo college for the pros, but I’m sure the big leagues would be more inclined to take a guy with college experience over player without it. This will encourage players to go to school for at least a season, with the potential to go pro after that. This seems to work in the MLB and NHL. Why the NCAA refuses to see this clearly displays their monetary motives. My plan isn’t just the best answer to the problem, it’s the only one that can be instituted feasibly. Unfortunately, this will require the cooperation of the NCAA as well as the pro leagues (NFL, NBA) that stand by the NCAA’s bylaws. And that simply won’t happen. The legality of this system must be questioned in order for anything to change. The NCAA somehow gets away with violating antitrust laws due to their political clout, but this has to end. College sports fans, this won’t mark the end of college sports. Just the end of college sports as we know it. And the college sports we know are full of corruption, shortcomings and legal loopholes. Want the so-called “purity” restored to college sports? Let them play because they want to, not because they have to.   Follow me on twitter @ScottPeceny

This article first appeared on isportsweb.com and was syndicated with permission.

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