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March $ Madness, 2013: The Exploitation of the Black Athlete

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When you tune in to almost any one of the 16 games played on Thursday (March 21st) and again on Friday (March 22nd) you could arrive at the conclusion that what you were watching was a basketball contest between Kenya and Uganda.

When presenting this argument about the exploitation of African American basketball players in class, the question is asked "but isn't the players getting scholarships?"

In recent empirical research the National College Players Association (NCPA) in their study titled "The $6 Billion Heist: Robbing College Athletes Under the Guise of Amateurism" they note the following:

The study also revealed that the average FBS "full" athletic scholarship falls short of the full cost of attending each school by an average of $3,285 during 2011-12 school year, and leaves the vast majority of full scholarship players living below the federal poverty line.

Several years ago author Michael Lewis (The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game) in a New York Times Op-Ed entitled "Serfs of the Turf" successfully argued that the amateurism label peddled by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the governing body of intercollegiate sports, best trick play is in fact peddling amateurism with the message that college sports has nothing to do with making money.

To add insult to injury, the majority of these African American student-athletes don't graduate. 

Furthermore, unlike regular students who invest in their education and look for a payoff after college, these student athletes don't get a return on their investment (e.g., mostly the time spent practicing, weight lifting, playing games -- that nowadays amounts to 5 years spent on campus).

When presenting this argument in class, the question is always asked "but don't they make it to the league and make big bucks?"

The response is no. Less than one percent (1%) of this years March Madness African American players will ever sign a professional contract.

In a USA Today Op-Ed Education Secretary Arne Duncan is proposing financial penalties for both coaches and institutions for poor academic performances by their student-athletes.

This proposal is heading in the right direction, but it does not go far enough. 

Our proposal is that athletic departments have to be held responsible for the futures of their former student athletes.  These former student athletes have to be prepared to enter the workforce in their chosen field at a rate of 85%.  Otherwise, institutions and their athletic departments (coaches, athletic directors etc) are simply exploiting these athletes for their own gain.

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Sociologist interested in Social Stratification (race, class & gender issues)

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March $ Madness, 2013: The Exploitation of the Black Athlete


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Critical sociological analysis of SportsWorld demo... by Earl Smith on Monday, Mar 25, 2013 at 10:50:31 AM
I dislike what happens at the intercollegiate leve... by Earl Smith on Monday, Mar 25, 2013 at 10:59:01 AM
With everyone making money, except the athletes, w... by Earl Smith on Monday, Mar 25, 2013 at 11:05:02 AM
ALL 16 teams heading to MArch Madness 2013 are coa... by Earl Smith on Tuesday, Mar 26, 2013 at 7:07:55 AM