Jay Paterno responded to the fanciful notions of Delany and Spurrier with an argument that players are already being paid through the value of their scholarship and room and board. Let’s look closer at that.
If Penn State football brings in around $70 million in revenue and $50 million in profit. That’s $597,000 per scholarship football player in profit. Out of State tuition plus Room and Board costs $38,000. Let’s add an extra $5,000 for special food and facilities use. That’s $43,000. Most students would take that deal. Most students aren’t paying for their scholarships 14 times over, and that’s assuming PSU is footing the full cost (they probably are not). PSU players are doing 100 percent of the entertaining, yet “earning” seven percent of profits.
That’s assuming Penn State is writing players a check. They are provided with assets and services the University controls the values for. The “income” consists of on-site (or a stipend for off-site) housing and food, necessary for their labor. By that logic slaves earn an income. The rest of this “income” consists of an education they might not want or be capable of using. They don’t receive discretionary income they can exchange for necessary goods and services, hence they loan money from agents and barter or sell belongings.
Why do they need discretionary income? JayPa asks. When they can exploit a “needy student fund” to buy clothes. Each player generates an average of $597,000 in profit for the school, and they should have to resort to charity to buy clothes. (Guessing he periodically googles to make sure the prisons and workhouses still provide useful course).
Football players have no free market for their labor. They are forced into a system that exploits them without a viable alternative. There’s no minor league option, as there is in baseball or hockey. Football and basketball have rules against players joining the league directly, ostensibly to prop up profitable college games.
Viewing college football solely through a labor lens is insane. As in professional sports, an entirely free-market would be unworkable, but no one is arguing for that slippery slope scenario. What has been proposed is around $3,000 per year per athlete to cover ancillary costs of attendance. Consider what that means.
Players get eight weeks off in football. They need to be there 44 weeks. That’s $68 per week. That’s not tattoos or outlandish jewelry money. That’s a tank of gas, a few groceries, condoms, pizza or a moderate night at the bar. Things that would allow one to function normally on a college campus. That doesn’t tackle large-scale corruption, but it would combat small loans from agents, and impulses to barter belongings and to hang out with drug traffickers or douches to use their PS3.
This isn’t much money compared to what coaches and ADs are making. Top schools generating $20 million plus in tax-free TV rights fees, can afford to provide it for all students. It doesn’t affect the balance of power greatly, as these schools already have enormous recruiting advantages and it would help weed out some of the small-scale corruption.
Even if there isn’t a full-proof plan yet, Lloyd Carr told ESPN. “It’s the right thing to try to figure out.”
[Photo via Getty]