Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-Time College Sports

By Andrew Zimbalist | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
The Media COMMERCIALIZATION AND STRATIFICATION

Of course, athletics departments need money to operate and provide good athletic opportunities for student-athletes. But our desire to generate these needed revenues has gone wildly out of control, creating a financial and commercial “arms race” among schools that creates a never ending upward spiraling need for more revenues in order to beat the other guys.

Gary Roberts, law professor at Tulane University and member of the Sugar Bowl Committee, testifying before the U.S. Senate on the College Bowl Alliance in May 1997

A postseason game draws the football season out over a large part of the regular academic year [and after the] strenuous … regular schedule [the players must focus on their studies.] But much as we need money and could use it here, it does not seem to us best for the boys [on the football team] and for the University to try to procure it in such a way. So far as we can see, a postseason game would be played at the sacrifice of many values, physical and academic, which properly belong to the students participating in football.

Letter from John Cavanaugh, vice president of Notre Dame University, to Sugar Bowl Committee, 1941

WHEN THE NCAA was founded back in 1905, its primary purpose was to sanitize and standardize the playing rules for football in order to preserve it as an intercollegiate sport. The Association also articulated a philosophy of amateurism, but it had no pretensions to coordinate the economic policies of its membership. Rather, the explicit NCAA policy was known as “home rule,” meaning that each institution was in control of its own athletics program. The “home rule” policy was not seriously

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