Student athlete

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

Sportsmanship

How you respond after you win and lose can be most revealing about who you really are. I always look forward to viewing the exchanges between winners and losers after any athletic competition. How a person reacts to winning and losing a game is crucial to illuminating how he or she probably will act in other spaces outside of athletics. For parents of middle and high school student-athletes, help to support the efforts of coaches in imparting the importance of sportsmanship. As a former student-athlete and one who continues to participate in intramural athletics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I know how difficult it can be to lose. Frankly, I hate losing. This is why I compete so hard. I have learned, however, that anyone who defeats me deserves my wholehearted congratulations. It does not take much to shake the winners’ hands and tell the winners, “Good game.” There’s nothing like battling one another with such zeal and then evincing good sportsmanship after the game is over. While sports may not be valued by everyone like they should be, they do teach us the how vital sportsmanship is not only on the courts and fields of play but also in all areas of life.

Trash talking when you win a game is such an ugly phenomenon. You won—don’t gloat! When you lose, don’t try to start a fight. You just have to accept that you lost. Just because you won one game, no matter how prominent of a game it is, does not mean that you should ever feel it proper to rub the pain of defeat in your opponents’ faces.

As an athlete, I understand how in the heat of competition things can get rather intense. Athletes, however, have to learn that their intensity needs to be held in check. There’s never a need for actions on a court or field to turn into a violation of criminal law. Law enforcement should never have to step in to resolve a fight on a court or field. When this happens, this means that athletes are simply out of control. It’s always essential to be in control. That is, you should be in control of those things you can control. You can control your attitude and behavior.

Let’s really start applying the lessons of sportsmanship that we get from sports. Our interactions with one another should reflect that we understand and value sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is about giving credit where credit is due, and it’s about thanking those who you have defeated for being willing to express their congratulations to you. Know how to win and know how to lose. Let’s go a little further: Know how to win and lose gracefully.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

The Real Crisis in Education: Black Male Academic Underachievement

Unfortunately, the prevailing professional literature has evinced that Black male students underperform all of their peers throughout the educational pipeline. What has largely been absent in all of this talk about education reform is ideas and initiatives targeted at ameliorating the educational experiences and outcomes of Black male students throughout the educational pipeline. Even more alarming is the fact that Black male student-athletes academically underperform all students. Although there have been some Black people who have been passionate about the improvement of Black male students’ academic performances throughout the educational pipeline, we need many more Black people to zealously fight for the improvement of these students’ academic achievement. For Black males, nothing can be more vital than working to ensure that schools are providing them with the best education possible.

In my scholarly and empirical work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have passionately advocated for and studied innovative ways to improve the academic achievement of Black male students throughout the educational pipeline. My work has, however, primarily focused on improving Black male college student-athletes. One of the reasons I have focused so heavily on Black male student-athletes is I find that by identifying ways to enhance the academic performances of these students will help to provide us with ways that we can improve the general Black male student population. Although we enjoy the great athletic prowess of these Black male student-athletes that we watch on the fields and courts they perform on, we have to think about how these college and universities are exploiting them in ways that have many affinities with how slaves were treated in early America.

At the Pre-K – 12 levels, we are going to have to embrace culturally relevant pedagogy and practices to ensure that Black male students can improve their academic achievement. Many teachers are going to need to explore better ways to reach these students, especially when they see that the ways in which they have attempted to reach them are not working. Many White teachers are going to have to see Black male students as students who can be successful academically and who are worth more than their entertainment and athletic value.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to see people who find my research interest in college Black male student-athletes to be something that they can take for their own research interest to make themselves sound good. Additionally, I have found someone who has actually stolen one of my ideas about college Black male student-athletes and has received grant funding for the idea. The stealing of the idea and receiving grant funding for it does not anger me, but what does anger me is people not having a true commitment to the improvement of the educational experiences and outcomes of Black male student-athletes.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, you have an Associate Athletic Director, Sean Frazier, who is in charge of diversity in the athletic department and his idea of diversity means having a “Soul Food Night.” Are you kidding me? This is the same guy who claims to have written an article on mentoring Black male college student-athletes, but I have to wonder just how informed this article is when one’s idea of diversity in the athletic department is having a “Soul Food Night.” “The Soul Food Night” would be fine if there were other substantive diversity efforts being engaged in. The scary thing about this reality is this man is second in charge in the athletic department. Sean Frazier is a Black man and former college student-athlete at the University of Alabama.

Sean Frazier and others are simply exploiting Black college male student-athletes. You would think that a Black man placed second in charge at a predominantly White elite public research university would make things better for Black male student-athletes, but he is simply interested in keeping his six figure salary and just spitting out meaningless rhetoric about his serious interest in the academic achievement of Black male student-athletes. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to work with this man in the athletic department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and have found him to be a man who is only interested in himself. This is not the type of Black leadership that Black male student-athletes need.

I am writing a scholarly book that uncovers how colleges and universities are currently exploiting Black male student-athletes. I contend that Black male student-athletes should receive modest stipends for the athletic labor they offer to the colleges and universities they are situated in. These predominantly White colleges and universities are receiving so much money from the athletic labor of Black male student-athletes, but they are certainly receiving an uneven exchange for their labor because they are not receiving modest stipends for their work. Uninformed individuals think that all student-athletes are on scholarship. This could not be further from the truth. Most student-athletes are not on scholarship. Most student-athletes have to struggle to purchase the necessary things that they need. Yes, many of them receive free tuition and room and board, but not all of them. Make sure you have all the facts about these student-athletes before you try to unfairly criticize them.

The great problems that Black male college student-athletes experience need greater attention in the professional literature. We cannot turn their academic problems over to people who simply want to exploit them. When you engage in discussions about education reform, be sure to include Black male students in your discussions. When politicians are talking about education reform, be sure to ask them what they propose to ameliorate the academic achievement of Black male students throughout the educational pipeline.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison