Friday, August 16, 2013

Johnny Manziel and the NCAA's Crumbling Empire

How many of these and other signed memorabilia are floating around for crazy loot.
I’ve been quiet on this Johnny Manziel autograph story because I needed to gather my thoughts. Not about him, but on the NCAA and their current state.

If Manziel accepted money for those autographs, so be it. I don’t care either way. What I care about is why this is a crime when colleges use player autographs for promotions and such? When autograph seekers can take gear signed and get crazy money for it while the athletes get punished for pennies.

When AJ Green sells his own gear, he was suspended several games. When Terrelle Pryor and his teammates traded their trinkets for tattoos –  currency – and got forced into playing in the Sugar Bowl, they barely got sympathy. Pryor’s name was dragged through the mud during his eventual suspension and I barely heard folks share any sympathy for him.

But let the school make far more money off their jerseys and those programs? It’s for the good of the institution. That's same lie that Wal-Mart sells when they ask you to overlook their unfair labor practices to spend their money.

Likewise, the NCAA cares less about protecting their players (workers) and more about witch-hunts and their own pockets. Why else do you explain Jay Bilas’ brilliant takedown of that site where the NCAA sold player jerseys? And their apology means they know their time is coming soon.
As I wrote last year, they love profiting off the belief their labor should be poor and just happy for the exposure/pride. A business that is making money by the truckloads at the expense of said labor. So you see why I don’t care if Manziel took some money off his name?

All players, whether famous or not, should be able to do so since they work just as hard as any other student to help the university. And before you say athletes get a free education, read what I say next.

What value is a “free education” when you can’t eat off it or get all the same experiences of a regular college student? What value are perks like travel and trinkets when the NCAA regulates what kind of jobs you can get to make money. It's no different than websites showcasing your talent and paying you with exposure. It's nice but that doesn't pay bills.

Yet the NCAA want to bring the hammer with guys like Reggie Bush. Bush and his family may have taken $290,000 in gifts from an agent but how much did USC profit off him? How many No. 5 jerseys did they sell in 2004 and 2005? How many recruits/students came to USC due to his role in that fame.

If Manziel is the final straw, it’s built on the backs of other straws like Pryor, Green, Dez Bryant, Perry Jones, Muhammad and others who have been suspended over similar small potatoes. The NCAA shared no tears for them but treated them as kids trying to get over.
Remember, Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit has the NCAA so scared of losing their control they pulled out of licensing for EA Sports and other conferences have followed suit.

The jig is slowly getting up. If you’re still listening to folks try to convince you that paying athletes is unfair, wake up. If you still think it’s fair for athletes to be targeted for taking money on the side while colleges switch conferences solely for the money (hi, Maryland), wake up.

Manziel might bring more awareness to how schools deal with autograph seekers (as Texas A&M has changed their rules at a recent event). But if he can help knock down bigger walls that others put cracks in, I welcome it. Folks like Bomani Jones, Jason Whitlock, Taylor Branch, Dan Wetzel and Jay Bilas have led the call for years and for others still trying to defend the system, there's still time to come around.

It all goes back to a simple thing. If student-athletes can’t profit off their name while others do so shamelessly and extravagantly, it’s not fair. As we get ready for another collegiate season to start, get ready for more reminders why I feel the NCAA’s days as a one-sided fat cat are numbered

No comments:

Post a Comment