Saying Goodbye to NCAA Exploitation

Writer: Kendrick Porter; Editor: Kadeem Pilgrim

While you hate to see it, it is fairly common that we as a society witness individuals with amazing talent being exploited at the hands of capitalism. 

To date, there are a number of pro-level college athletes who are not being compensated for their work. And until last month, this was considered the norm for colleges and universities across the country; recruit talent, use talent, make money. 

Before I delve into this subject, I should first state that California is the only state to denounce the NCAA’s policies, which state that student-athletes are not allowed to hire agents or be compensated for their name, image or likeness. 

California’s new legislation, if approved, would impact over 24,000 student-athletes based within the state.

Now, one would think that an organization like the NCAA, which surpassed $1B in revenue last year, would allow the students who generated said revenue to see a portion of it. 

That, however, is not the case.

I first became aware of the magnitude of this issue several years ago via then college athlete Shabazz Napier. In a 2013 interview, he stated the following:

“I don’t feel student-athletes should get hundreds of thousands of dollars, but as I said, there are hungry nights when I go to bed and I’m starving”

Since then, the issue of cheating college athletes out of seeing any of the revenue they bring in for their respective institutions has been brought to the forefront. Athletes such as Lebron James and Richard Sherman have stepped up to voice their opinions regarding the compensation of student-athletes. 

Despite the large amounts of money they generate, student-athletes are treated like unpaid interns. They are expected to attend all practices, games, and press conferences, play to the fullest extent of their physical capability, keep their grades up, participate in photo shoots and community initiatives, and of course- be grateful to their coaches for giving them the opportunity to be hoodwinked. 

And while a recent NPR news report states that the NCAA is in talks to allow college athletes to be compensated, I’m waiting with bated breath to see if this will amount to more than talk. 

It’s easy to discredit student-athletes because of their status as college students, however, many fail to realize a number of today’s star athletes come from families that lie below the poverty line. Housing and a meal plan only go so far when these students are barely ever in their rooms and rarely have the free time required to visit the cafeteria.

Furthermore, the NCAA’s decision to deny student-athletes the rights to any of the money they are bringing in for their school seems to perpetuate a narrative that Gen Y and Gen Z have become all too familiar with - the expectation that college students should be satisfied being free or cheap labor.

This seems to be a horrific cycle that will continue as long as the people in power choose to ignore the unfair treatment of students. 

Abusing the talent of college athletes must end now, and hopefully, California is the state that takes this effort all the way!