Maybe we should all go pro

This week's Exile on Jones Street column, fresh from the actual, printed pages of The Carrboro Citizen.

Maybe we should all go pro.

When it comes to sports, this is that time of year I most dislike. This is when those thin walls that separate college and professional athletics come down and we start seeing dollar figures instead of majors and year in school in the descriptive clauses of individuals who’ve played loyally for our chosen schools.

I don’t begrudge anyone a bit for going pro and totally understand where they’re coming from. I was anxious to get into the professional world myself and left after my junior year for a six-figure salary. Of course, a lot of those figures came after the decimal point.

Given the circumstances, it seems perfectly sane for many of these young men to go pro. Less balanced is the fact that the rest of us haven’t. Under the circumstances, holding on to the ideal that all collegiate sports are an amateur enterprise, while certainly high-minded is both bizarre and expensive behavior.

The money sports – basketball and football — have seen larger and larger stadiums, more and more advertising and corporate sponsorships and, for the fans, ever increasing ticket prices. The games are migrating in an increasing number to cable channels, including some inaccessible without an extra fee to most of us. And the ‘arms race’ — as some like to call it — over coaching salaries spirals further with each dismissal and subsequent quest for new greatness.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are forking over $20-$30 plus to sit in the nosebleed section of a building we’re paying the upkeep for and munch a $3 dollar, untaxed hot dog. Before us on the hardwood or the gridiron are young people playing their hearts out for an education and not one thin dime more.

Something’s wrong with this picture: These are our kids, playing at our schools yet somehow most of the dough flows to the networks, ad agencies and sports apparel companies.
If this were anything else, we’d be demanding a bigger cut. We can start by demanding a better deal.

For starters we can take a harder look at how money flows in and out of athletic programs. One example is the way powerful boosters have managed to get the state to add out-of-state athletes to the list of scholars receiving in-state tuition.

Rep. Pricey Harrison, the Greensboro Democrat, who has introduced legislation to eliminate the program, said the loss to the taxpayers is roughly $15 million per year and rising. A breakdown of where the money goes shows an overwhelming amount flows to the biggest state schools — you know, the ones with the new coaches and skyboxes. Harrison said she doesn’t expect the bill to go far, but wanted to do something about it on principle.

“I just wanted to see a little sunshine on a bad provision,” she said.

Recently, the Big Ten conference gave up the ghost in a way. In a challenge to the current paradigm, the conference formed its own network. There’s also the scandalizing notion advancing through the ranks of the NCAA that we should actually pay the athletes.
As former UNC President William Friday has pointed out many times, only the top 20 or so schools actually make any money off of their athletic programs, but the arms race and the unsavory doings in the name of the Alma Mater surely affect them all.

Elon Poll Part Two

A couple of notes about the last of the Elon Poll, which came out after deadline last week.
One standout number is the drop in the number of people who say the death penalty is an appropriate punishment for first-degree murder. In 2005, 61 percent of respondents said yes, while this year that number dropped to 43 percent.

The poll also looked at attitudes on public education and showed a rather wide set of opinions about what are the most critical issues facing schools. Almost an even split said the schools are heading in the wrong direction (44 percent) and the right direction (42 percent). Much less consensus on the pressing need of their local schools with quality/teaching (17 percent), overcrowding (10 percent), discipline (9 percent), adequate funding (8 percent), violence and gangs (8 percent) at the top of the list.

Oh, and we’re incredibly unprepared for hurricane season.

Comments

Good column. Kirk

I have a feeling there is some complacency toward hurricane season. Last year experts predicted an active hurricane season, but the season was relatively mild compared to the previous year. It is almost like folks are playing chicken with storm season.

Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

with apologies to Cowboy Troy. . .

I played Chicken with the Rain, played Chicken with the Rain.
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The Den
My darling girl, when will you understand that 'normal' isn't necessarily a virtue. It rather denotes a lack of courage." - Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

hurricane stats

My dad just paid a visit from Fla.. He went through three in a row a couple years back. We've been lucky.
From the Elon release:

The poll also surveyed residents about their preparation for the upcoming hurricane season, which officially begins June 1. Sixty-five percent of residents said they have not done anything to prepare for hurricane season, while 29 percent said they have made preparations.

Those who said they had made preparations were asked to identify the most important thing they have done to be ready for hurricane season. Thirty-seven percent said they had purchased supplies of water and food, while 16 percent had improved home safety by removing trees or establishing a safe room in their home. Fourteen percent had purchased a generator; another 14 percent had purchased a hurricane kit with items such as batteries, flashlight, water and food.

When asked how prepared they and their families are for the upcoming hurricane season, 15 percent said they are very prepared, 42 percent said they are somewhat prepared, 25 percent said they haven’t given it much thought, and 12 percent said they are not prepared.

“Although researchers have indicated that this will be an active hurricane season, it seems many residents aren’t paying attention to those forecasts,” Bacot said. “This could be a costly hurricane season for the state should a major storm make landfall, given the apparent lack of preparation on the part of many residents.”

Indeed it is an excellent column.

I really didn't know any of the details about the money and Collegiate sports before. It seems like they could at least tax the hotdog, and get some of that $$ back. Dare I say it - this is where we need the thinking of the free market fundies - at least to some extent. Folks are going to buy the freakin' food anyway. Add 50 cent tax to the food and beverages and turn it back into the system so we're not subsidizing the networks. We should be smart about this. For once, the state actually has a commodity (I hate using that word to apply to the sports program) that people will pay for.

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The Den
My darling girl, when will you understand that 'normal' isn't necessarily a virtue. It rather denotes a lack of courage." - Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic

I know I'm a curmudgeon

but I despise the commercialization of college sports.

What is your research on this statement?

These are our kids, playing at our schools yet somehow most of the dough flows to the networks, ad agencies and sports apparel companies.

I assume that in reality the largest chunks go to the school. Anyway money flows from the ad agency and networks and sports apparel companies. They only get it back once consumers choose to buy the products advertised. So isn't this the public's fault.

This is not to say that I disagree with you, but you lay the fault at the wrong people and have the wrong solution. I would like it if fewer people spent so much time on sports (I usually leave events sad at the amount of energy wasted on them), but hey it is a free country and market. Also, I think paying athletes (again, before the 80's they were paid under the table with regularity) would lead to more of an imbalance in major programs that could afford players.

what I mean

is that the companies are getting a much bigger cut.
And, no, money might flow to the big schools but for most it's a cost.