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America's Athletic Cartel

January 11, 2018

This past Sunday was the National Championship for college football. A national homage to the glories of another economic infraction. The nation witnessed a revenue machine profiting from a systematic repression of wages. While that last sentence screams, "socialism", I assure you that is not where this is going. If anything the current NCAA policies currently are the makings of a crude socialist regime.

 

The NCAA forbids any form of compensation to an athlete outside of a scholarship. In fact any cent that makes it way to a "student-athletes" pocket is cause for the dismissal of that athlete and the loss of his/her scholarship. This is a system that suppresses wages and disproportionately punishes anyone who is inclined to earn more. If this was any other industry it would be protested as totalitarianism. 

 

Granted, this is a good deal for non-revenue sport athletes, they get an education due to the lack of compensation for the basketball and football players. But what is being compromised? I would posit, an opportunity for fundamental economic liberty. The athlete's "product" is their image and skill. They should be free to market that and receive equitable payment. If a student goes to college on a talent scholarship for art, they don't lose the scholarship if they sell their own art. Let the athletes freely negotiate their terms of employment. The colleges want athletes, grant both parties the freedom to agree upon the value of that commodity. 

 

What I am suggesting is not that every athlete make a salary. Not every athlete is valuable enough to their school to deserve a salary. Simply remove the prohibition on student-athlete compensation. Allow the players to make money from the jerseys sold that bear their name. Allow them to make money off the video games that use their likeness. And if the player is valuable enough, pay them a salary. It's that simple, but bureaucracy loves asinine complexity.

 

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