The Tight Squeeze Issue

I Was a College Athlete, and NCAA Amateurism Doesn't Help Us

March Madness is suffused with "love of the game" propaganda justifying restrictions on paying athletes. A former Division I basketball player explains why those roles are burdensome and irrelevant.
March 27, 2017, 12:58pm

An abbreviated version of this story appeared in the March issue of VICE magazine. Click HERE to subscribe.

For more than a century, "for love of the game" propaganda romanticizing amateurism in NCAA Division I sports has been force-fed to fans, coaches, administrators, and college athletes alike. And we eat it up, convincing ourselves that not allowing campus players to get paid anything beyond full grant-in-aid produces something purer and ultimately better than anything those money-grubbing professionals can offer.

March Madness is the epitome of this. We don't like to think about big-time college basketball as a billion-dollar industry, one that saddles the athletes we love rooting for with absurd financial restrictions, intense demands, and a lack of basic rights. And the people on the right side of those billions of dollars, particularly in NCAA executive suites, are more than happy to profit from our sentimentality.

Well, as a former Division I basketball player myself, let me offer a corrective: from an athlete's perspective, amateurism is both burdensome and totally irrelevant.

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