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Patrick Dodge

Malcom:

Congratulations on parlaying the correct information about the NCAA and more specifically with the unique situation with Clemson University. Job well done and it was interesting to see this story receive the light it should.

Zack Brown

What drives me crazy is that the NCAA cracked down so hard on these cases, but let Notre Dame Safety, Tom Zbikowski, box professionally at Madison Square Garden this summer where he received a purse of $25,000.

They said that as long as he didn't receive an endorsement, he wasn't getting special treatment as a college athlete.

Zbikowski fought a tomato can from Akron and knocked the dude out in 49 seconds. The fight wasn't competitive, compelling or even marginally fair. So why was Madison Square Garden booked for the fight and why did the Notre Dame safety get paid 25 grand? Because he's famous for being an amateur college football player.

If a college football player earning $25,000 for 49 seconds of work doesn’t count as special treatment or being ‘over-paid’, then I’m not sure what does.

Jake

Have you read this recent article on ESPN about the Elrathbey situation?

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=2594996

It seems that clemson has figured out a way around the NCAA's ridiculous system, to do the right thing.

Kent Anderson

While I somewhat agree with this, I think we have to remember that many situations are inequitable. If these were research assistants at a university, would we be as upset? Are millions of dollars of value generated by underpaid student research assistants and teaching assistants every year? Yes, definitely. Careers of tenured professors are extended and enhanced, as often as not, by these "exploited" workers. Yet the real issue, it seems to me, is two-fold: 1) Is the deal considered fair? 2) Is the long-term benefit of the current relationship factored in? In the case of the student-athletes, each one knows that subverting themselves to the college game long enough to shine will likely lead to a multi-million-dollar professional contract, or that is at least their hope. In exchange, they agree to poor pay and limitations imposed by the NCAA. Is the deal fair? Sure it is. Who hasn't started out at the bottom of the ladder with an eye toward ascending to the top? It is done in hopes of a long-term payoff. Does Malcolm Gladwell really extract every penny of value from his work on "The New Yorker"? Of course not. He gets paid an amount he thinks is fair, but the owner likely makes much more than that. But he is building a reputation as an author, speaker, and personality that will, over time, make him much better off than he was when he started, yet he will never capture all the value of his work. The same goes for all of us. So, after a fair amount of thought, and despite some ringing rhetoric, I come out thinking this is just a bunch of hand-wringing over a fool who was on his way to being a millionaire and squandered it for short-money from a local car dealer. Ninety-nine percent of NCAA athletes, student employees, TAs, and people taking their first full-time job are smart enough to know that payoff comes later and in negotiated, stair-step fashion, and that you are very unlikely to get back all the value you generate. All you can hope for is a fair deal, and I think this guy got it. He was a fool, and couldn't wait to cash in on his modest celebrity.

Cory Fox

Mr. Gladwell,

I completely agree with this post. I'd also like to point out that the athlete's celebrity is, in a large way, created by the University's exploitation of amateurism. If the athlete wasn't clad in Nike, appearing on ESPN in a state-of-the-art football stadium, would he be as famous? I tend to think not.

Me Myself and Eugene

Isn't the "YOU TRY IT THEN!" argument exactly the same dumb argument every athlete throws out at journalists when they write about their poor play? It is odd to see journalists doing the exact same thing.

Posted by: Will Leitch | September 30, 2006 at 11:23 AM
==========

Alas, Young Will, you're missing the point. He said, "you try it, and you'll understand why writers are so sensitive to criticism of works that they poured their hearts into." Not, "you try it, and only then will we grant you permission to speak."

Of course, MG wouldn't have ended the sentence with a preposition.

jennifer

Save the big paychecks for the big leagues. I abhor college sports, especially when it involves hero worship. The focus should be on education and not on seeing how much money you can throw at a gigantic oaf who cannot point to the state of New York on a map. Why should American society reward (worship) overpay college athletes and coaches? Why not just poach these athletic boy wonders straight out of high school and allow the college minded set to get on with life in academia without distraction? (I went to graduate school at Penn State - my only regret in life.)

NEWSFLASH: There are plenty of college students out there who have a crack mommy and absent father. Yet we only single out and feel sorry for the ones who can throw a ball. Why?

We should try to keep greed and corruption out of college sports, if boy wonder is any good he will have plenty of time for it after graduation.

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