Stop the madness

Sean O'Neill - More than the score (Tom Bateman/AQ)

On Monday, April 4, 2011, the Butler Bulldogs and Connecticut Huskies played a championship basketball game that would have made John Wooden have an epileptic seizure if he were alive.

After the two teams drained a percentage of shots (26 per cent) that you may be expected to be made by a couple of zombies from The Walking Dead, UConn walked off with the title.

The teams should have made a more profound sound that night in Houston. Clank! can only go so far. What they should have done is sit on their rear ends and watch the clock tick to zero with donuts in each score column, turning the game into a farce of back-court and shot-clock violations.

Why?

In protest of all the lilywhite university presidents, television producers, sportswear executives and stadium owners who profit from these kids who are granted or who pay full tuition at their respective institutions.

The players are the circus animals, and I hope this year – whether it’s a Cardinal, Wildcat or Jayhawk – they go back to the barn and tell the customers there is no show to see.

This nearly happened in 1995. According to Rigo Nunez, at the time a guard at the University of Massachusetts, there was a plan in the opening round of the tournament for “seventy-five percent of the [games] not being played.” The ball would bounce until it lay flat on the court and not be touched again.

But like most kids making a moral decision that goes against the tide of our society, as Nunez said to The Fan 1080 Radio in Portland, they got cold feet.

Since then, the NCAA has signed close to $17 billion (puts the full tuition the players get in perspective, huh?) in television contracts with CBS and Turner to broadcast the games that UMass and other teams planned on ruining.

This is called, for executives on both sides of the transaction, the free market. The players don’t have the luxury to profit from the free market when they are NCAA “student-athletes,” even though these rights are guaranteed in some Mickey Mouse document called The Constitution.

The players not being paid from the CBS/Turner contract is the equivalent of Coldplay selling out the Superdome in New Orleans, where this year’s final will be played. The only compensation they get after the concert is hugs and kisses from Gwenyth.

Not only does the NCAA have volunteer labour to generate this income, they can use memories of March moments gone by to profit from other companies.

When Gatorade uses Michael Jordan’s shot over Craig Ehlo in its ads, Team Jordan gets compensated.

But UPS is using Christian Laettner’s miracle for Duke to beat Kentucky without giving him a dime.

When college athletes come to school, they have to sign a legal release with the NCAA, granting the rights to each player’s image “forever…and throughout the universe.”

This has been the topic du jour in college athletics for over a year now. People know the system is unfair. Now someone just has to take action.

This is my last column of the year and I truly appreciate everyone who has taken the time to read my work. I hope I accomplished my personal goal: to make you laugh and think.

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