College athletics

Reduce the NCAA’s Power

Northern Iowa v Michigan State

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) functions as a cartel.  One of the most significant ways to check the powers of the NCAA is to form a body of composed university presidents from each conference and division, former college student-athletes, and professional coaches to vote to approve, modify, and/or reject rules and decisions rendered by the NCAA.  Essentially, this new body would have line-item veto power over the NCAA.  For rules and decisions of the NCAA to be vetoed, this new body would have to arrive at a two-thirds majority agreement.  By creating this new governing body, the NCAA’s current absolute power would be eliminated.  Although this is not a panacea to the problems in intercollegiate athletics, it does provide critical oversight for the NCAA.

A governing body with real oversight powers over the NCAA is needed.  When the NCAA recently evinced that it cannot abide by its own rules during the investigation of the University of Miami, no substantive consequences ensued.  The reason why no consequences followed for the organization is there’s no oversight body in place to address the NCAA.

The NCAA constantly produces rules and decisions that aren’t beneficial to student-athletes and the schools they attend.  Although the NCAA markets itself as a zealous advocate for student-athletes, the organization’s marketing is completely phony.  If the NCAA was serious about being an advocate for student-athletes, then it would supply student-athletes with all the resources they need to be successful academically and would allow student-athletes to receive stipends.

Higher education administrators, students, student-athletes, fans, alumni, and policymakers must federate to call for an oversight body for the NCAA.  An oversight body for the NCAA would help to improve phenomena in intercollegiate athletics and significantly benefit student-athletes and the schools they attend.

If you care about student-athletes and reforming intercollegiate athletics, then you will join the effort to institute a new oversight body for the NCAA.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Perceptions of Black Male Student-Athletes on Predominantly White Campuses

Black Athlete

(Photo Credit: sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

In “‘Athleticated’ Versus Educated: A Qualitative Investigation of Campus Perceptions, Recruiting and African American Male Student-Athletes,” C. Keith Harrison (2008) conducted a study to explore students’ narratives about the college recruitment of high-profile Black male high school student-athletes.  Harrison had participants to watch a scene about college athletic recruiting from The Program (1994).  The research questions posed in this study are as follows: (1) Are the recruiting visit perceptions by students about student-athletes based on stereotypes and athlete biases?  (2) How will students respond to images that represent the intercollegiate athletic ritual(s) to sign major recruits in revenue sports (i.e. football and/or basketball)?  (3)  What type of discussion and dialogue about academics and athletics does the qualitative data (narratives) reveal?

A mixed-method research design was used.  202 students at a highly selective Midwestern university participated in this study.  73.6% of the participants are White, 13.4% Asian, and 9% Black, 3% Hispanic, and 1% identified as “Other.”  Visual elicitation was employed to stimulate a discourse between the interviewer and the interviewees.  A survey questionnaire was used.  Hierarchical content analysis and inductive analysis were employed to analyze open-ended responses to questions posed on the survey questionnaire given to each participant after viewing only one scene from The Program.  Participants’ responses emerge from viewing this one scene.

The findings of the study indicated that both Black and White students identified Black male student-athletes in the film to be more athletic or “athleticated” than educated.  Both Black and White students viewed the Black male student-athletes on the film as sex objects.  For Black participants, two dominant themes were found: “athleticated” and “sex object.”  For White participants, four major themes were determined: “athleticated,” “sex object,” “media stereotypes,” and “unrealistic depiction.”  The most prominent themes for both Blacks and Whites were “athleticated” and “sex object.”

Harrison (2008) found important gaps in the professional literature about their being limited empirical investigations of the recruiting inventory of the student-athlete and how the general student body views the student-athlete’s recruitment process.  Since this study extended knowledge about the two aforementioned gaps in the literature, it helps to give some understanding of them.

Harrison (2008) does not offer the reader an understanding of whether this was each participant’s first time viewing the film, which is crucial to understanding potential influences on their responses to questions posed.  One significant weakness of the study is the scholar did not allow the participants to view the entire film, which impacts their ability to properly contextualize the scene the study engaged.  The study does not offer specific details about the responses Hispanic, Asian, and “Other” participants divulged.

Future research needs to resolve how the views of the recruitment of Black male student-athletes of the general student population impact their educational experiences at predominantly white higher education institutions.  Additionally, future research should be devoted to understanding how the perceptions of the recruitment of Black male student-athletes impact their interactions with faculty at predominantly white higher education institutions.  Finally, future research needs to replicate this study and allow students to watch the entire film and then ask them questions about the particular scene used by this study.

Reference

Harrison, C.K. (2008). “Athleticated” versus educated: A qualitative investigation of campus perceptions, recruiting and African American male student-athletes. Challenge: A Journal of Research on African American Men, 14(1), 39-60.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Unfair and Exploitative NCAA Rules

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body that oversees intercollegiate athletics, has created such a large number of complicated rules that even schools with some of the top lawyers in the nation cannot understand all of them completely. Until you have read and studied the very thick book of rules that the NCAA has established, then don’t be so quick to judge administrators, student-athletes, athletic department tutors and coaches. Yes, things like plagiarism, falsifying records, violent behavior, and etc. are violations of any institution’s policies without the NCAA telling them that they are. However, the NCAA has instituted many rules that need to be eliminated.

The NCAA will not allow players to speak to agents about their potential futures in playing professional sports. Now, please explain to me what’s the harm in allowing a student-athlete to speak to an agent about a future in playing professional sports? Is the NCAA really concerned about the futures of student-athletes? No! We allow all other students to have lawyers and agents while they are attending college. Why is it that the NCAA has decided to not give student-athletes equal treatment? It’s all about keeping student-athletes in the colleges and universities they attend to keep making those institutions more money. That’s why! By virtue of being a student-athlete, it’s conspicuous that he or she would love to have an opportunity to participate in sports on a professional level. Why would the NCAA try to hinder student-athletes from best positioning themselves for futures in professional athletic competition? By forbidding them from speaking to agents, they prevent student-athletes from engaging in strategic and effective planning about their future. This is unfair and exploitative.

If young student-athletes want to enter into professional sports immediately after graduating high school, they should be able to do this in every sport. We should not force them to have to attend college for any period of time before they are able to participate in sports on a professional level. For student-athletes who are not well-suited for college, we are using college as a punishment for them. College should be for those students who have genuine interests and needs for it. It should not be forced on any person wishing to participate in professional athletics. I understand that there are some good reasons for having students to attend college before they participate in professional athletics, but, again, college should not be forced on anyone.

What’s economically best for many student-athletes coming out of high school is to be able to make money immediately. If colleges would give student-athletes stipends, then they would be able to take care of their immediate economic needs and the economic needs of their families. Many Black male student-athletes come from such poor economic backgrounds that they need to make money immediately. Their families struggle with just surviving. While they and their families are struggling to survive, you have people with such elitist views that think it’s so wrong to give student-athletes stipends in exchange for their participation in college athletics and all that comes with their participation in college athletics.

In short, the NCAA needs to reduce all burdensome rules that prevent student-athletes from giving themselves the best possible future. I really encourage legal challenges to many of the NCAA’s rules to take place. We have to become increasingly concerned about how the NCAA exploits student-athletes. It is possible for us to make significant efforts to dramatically reduce the exploitation of student-athletes by using the legal system as a vehicle to accomplish this.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Postmodern Plantation System: The NCAA and Black Male Student-Athletes

Slavery is not over. Colleges and universities collectively make billions of dollars off of the athletic prowess of Black male student-athletes, but these institutions will not even give them adequate academic support in return. Many people will say that they receive free tuition and room and board and will think that they should be happy with this, considering most undergraduates don’t have this advantage. I would just like to inform people who think like this that most student-athletes don’t receive scholarships, free tuition, and room and board—only a select few receive free tuition and room and board. Even if all student-athletes were to magically be given free tuition and room and board, this would still represent a classic Marxian uneven exchange. Think about it—they provide these institutions with billions of dollars and these institutions give them free tuition and room and board in return—simply inequitable. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body that oversees intercollegiate athletics, contends that paying student-athletes would be a horrible thing to do. However, the NCAA and higher education institutions do not think that it’s horrible to pay Teaching Assistants. Why not simply make graduate students teach for free as a part of their degree requirements? Exactly! They know that graduate students are too sophisticated and too politically organized to allow themselves to be exploited in such a way.

Just as those Teaching Assistants receive free tuition and a monthly stipend in return for their service, institutions should give all student-athletes monthly stipends in return for their service. Many athletic departments require student-athletes to do community service projects, visit sick children in hospitals, and other charitable things, but they are not paid a dime for this service—the athletic departments simply get to benefit from the charity of these student-athletes.

Billy Hawkins, Kinesiology professor at the University of Georgia, has written a book, The New Plantation: Black Athletes, College Sports, and Predominantly NCAA Institutions (2010), that posits that predominantly White colleges and universities are functioning very much like the colonial plantations did during slavery. For Hawkins, Black male student-athletes are slaves at these predominantly White institutions. He does an excellent job of evincing how these institutions exploit Black male student-athletes academically and physically.

I do, however, disagree with Hawkins that these institutions are functioning very much like colonial plantations during slavery. In Postmodernism or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991), Fredric Jameson asserts that we are currently residing in late capitalism, a stage of capitalism that makes it much more the global dominant and much more of a deceptively attractive economic system than it was during slavery in America. Therefore, the attempt Hawkins makes to evince how Black male student-athletes are similar to slaves during slavery in America ultimately fails because his central thesis needs to be informed by a serious understanding of late capitalism (postmodernism).

My notion of colleges and universities being postmodern plantations for Black male student-athletes is informed carefully by Fredric Jameson’s characterization of postmodernism (late capitalism). During slavery in America, Black people knew without a doubt that they were slaves. Black male student-athletes do not know that they are slaves today. Many are given scholarships that pay their tuition and room and board, but this uneven exchange exploits them in academic, economic, and physical ways that are much more dishonest than during the colonial plantation system. The focus that Hawkins devotes to making connections between the treatment of slaves during slavery to the treatment of Black male student-athletes in our postmodern period are important, but he misses how much more sophisticated colleges and universities have developed the postmodern plantation.

Predominantly White colleges and universities have made most Black student-athletes think that they are happy because they get to play the sports they enjoy, get free tuition and housing, and have a chance to compete professionally. During slavery, most slaves were not happy just receiving the bare minimums. Free tuition and room and board are the bare minimums today.

The NCAA is a cartel. This despicable governing body is only interested in helping colleges and universities to keep getting richer so that the executive leadership of the NCAA can keep getting richer. The NCAA is the force that allows this postmodern plantation system to persist and that makes the postmodern plantation system increasingly more dominant. The refusal of the NCAA to allow student-athletes to be given stipends in exchange for participating in intercollegiate athletic sports is a deliberate attempt to exploit not only Black male student-athletes but all student-athletes.

The least that these predominantly White colleges and universities can do is give student-athletes enough money in the form of stipends to pay for their own private tutors, tutors outside of the athletic department.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison