What does NCAA stand for?

By Christopher B. Daly

The latest Atlantic (print edition) brings a major piece by historian Taylor Branch on the NCAA. Titled “The Shame of College Sports,” it shines a much-needed light on the NCAA and depicts it as a corrupt, self-serving institution.

It is piece that feels like a landmark in sports journalism and that feels like the core of a new book. If Branch is working on a book, I hope he will expand on this piece and pursue several related themes:

–Even when a NCAA program is behaving itself, what is the impact on those students who are on a varsity team? How many get injured? How many graduate? How many live in a bubble on-campus?

–Branch makes a good case for considering NCAA football and basketball as minor leagues for those professional sports. In that case, why not cut them adrift and make the NFL and the NBA pay the cost of maintaining these farm teams? Pay the kids who play on those teams.

–Is it time to abolish not only the NCAA but all intercollegiate sports? In pursuit of the ideal of mens sana in corpore sano, intercollegiate athletics is actually counter-productive. NCAA athletes make up a tiny proportion of the student body at most schools. (And too often, the NCAA athletes neglect their minds and over-exert their bodies.) What about everyone else? All students need exercise. They need access to places where they can work out — not to giant stadiums that are only used 8 or nine times a year, not to exclusive “weight rooms” dedicated to varsity athletes, and the like. I am all for athletics on campus, just not the expensive hoopla that arises from having one school compete against another school.

To be continued. . .

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