Thursday, April 10, 2014

Guess who wasn't an economics major?

In the ongoing battle over monetary compensation for student athletes, perhaps no voice is more stridently ignorant than that of Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby:

"I came up as a wrestler and I can tell you I worked just as hard as any football player in the country, as any basketball player, in fact I would say I worked harder than those guys,"

"The fact is we have student-athletes in all sorts of sports that, if you apply any form of value to their labor, you cannot pay football players and not pay gymnasts just because the football player has the blessing of an adoring public. That's the only difference. There are a lot of student athletes that are worthy."

Well maybe he did take a class in Marxian econ and fell in love with the labor theory of value!

Of course a simple glance at the real world (as opposed to wherever the hell Bowlsby lives) refutes his thesis.

Just change the context and see if you buy it: "you cannot pay movie stars more than teachers just because the movie star has an adoring public. Teachers work harder than those guys".


Look people, the hard truth is that football and basketball players have been cross-subsidizing tennis players, swimmers, rowers, golfers, you name it, for a very long time. Now that the handwriting is on the wall for that (to me at least) blatantly unfair system, there are going to be big adjustments.

No more cross country air travel for the golf / tennis / field hockey teams. Heck maybe even no more scholarships for them either.


Ryan Long said...

There's more to it than that. Student athletes are prevented by the NCAA from working over 20 hours per week (at a part-time job). More popular sports may generate some revenue for the less popular sports, but the less popular athletes are often forced to "volunteer" to help the football team as a way of reducing football's operating costs.

For example, as an NCAA cross-country athlete, I was required to work the parking lots during football and basketball games.

I think we probably agree about the ultimate conclusions here - reduce the power of the NCAA and don't fund any sport that fails to generate a profit - but this issue looks very different from the athlete's perspective. Being forced to work for the football team at the expense of working for myself to pay my own bills, having 40% of my available credit hours sucked away by PE classes, and thus being forced to pay an additional 2 years of tuition fees after my NCAA eligibility is up...

These are the reasons I quit the team after one year. Either let kids pay their own way, or pay them. Fair is fair.

Jeremy Wells said...

I'm sure he'd agree that professors work harder than conference commissioners and therefore deserve more pay as well...

Anonymous said...

How much more do you think the commissioner of the BIG 12 makes than the commissioner of the Great Lakes Valley Conference?

Shoot, aren't they all just working for student athletes, who we've already established are equals?

dismal_scientist said...


Cross sensitization is mostly a myth. See Rod Fort and Jason Winter's 15 sports myths and why they are wrong, myth number 1.

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Anonymous said...

What also complicates the picture is athletes of some big revenue programs receiving non-monetary forms of compensation that overall cost the taxpayer and the people far more than the profit they make. How much is the police covering up a rape worth? Several million dollars? What about more mundane criminal activity, like drug dealing?

The problem of course is that when you add up the individuals receiving such compensation it's not necessarily according to their performance as athletes. It might not always be the star player getting these benefits even when they accrue to the football team as a whole.