There are only two ways those in power give up what they happily control: they die off, or rebels who want change rise up and take it.
The NCAA is nothing but the oldest of self-righteous power guards over the fiefdom it owns: college sports.
And despite years — nay, decades, if not an a century — of logic, pleadings, demands, threats, even attempted organized opposition to change the rules of “amateur’’ big-time college sport, the NCAA has done nothing but throw out a bone or two here and there to neglected athletes along the way to its own wealth and glorification.
Now, at last, things are changing.
It’s an axiom that we only can withstand hypocrisy so long until allowing it to exist, right in our faces, demeans us to the point of making us co-conspirators.
So here’s a big pat on the back to California, that cutting-edge, sometimes-wacky but never dull, immense state so often in the forefront of societal change, for passing a bill that allows college athletes to cash in on stuff they always should have been allowed to cash in on.
Far from being the economic, moral, and societal disaster the NCAA and its minions are saying this is, it helps us all.
No more will we have to stutter and babble when asked why it is that Johnny Star Point Guard makes zero income while his coach, who couldn’t make a shot from a stepladder, is paid many millions.
No more will we have to wonder why said coach can do all the TV commercials, shoe deals, paid speaking engagements, and movie appearances he wants — plus collect a salary — and the star athlete cannot.
Indeed, not only can’t the athlete currently do any of these things, he/she will be shunned, marginalized, even demonized — and assuredly kicked out of school — for doing so. (A caveat here. Sometimes the athlete can get back into school with enough payback and groveling to assure the powers-that-be they are still rightfully sovereign.)
Here’s the deal. College athletes in California (you’ll never hear me call them “student-athletes,’’ the cynically rosy term invented by the NCAA itself) now can sign endorsement deals, hire agents, and make money off their likenesses.
For example, if an athlete at UCLA, USC, Stanford, or even Cal State-Bakersfield wants to sell T-shirts with his/her face on it, he/she can. Before this, to do so would have put that athlete on par with a serial robber, NCAA-wise.
This limiting of what a big-time sports performer could make always has been wrong. The repressive notion itself sprang from a convoluted American do-gooder interpretation of what being an amateur means.
We got our sporting template from 19th century England, where sport and the lower classes shan’t ever mix. To wit: only the upper crust could perform at athletics, and only then for the glory of gentlemanly competition and sportsmanship. Monetary reward? For shame! The rich didn’t need it; only the money-grubbing proletariat wanted it.
Once this perverse vision was adopted here in the U.S., it got undermined almost instantly. Remember, we are a capitalist nation of alleged meritocracy, where we take what we can and we go for the top, baby!
So schools cheated to get the best athletes, academics were irrelevant, etc. We know these scandals because they continue to this day.
California’s rules won’t come into effect until 2023, so expect lots of end-of-the-world lawsuits before then.
But Illinois has just entered the fray, with a bill introduced last week in Springfield that is similar to California’s, and expect more states to rapidly join in. Good luck, NCAA. The only thing you and your member athletic directors, coaches, and supporters are worried about is your safe, lucrative, convenient world.
To all the complainers who believe this movement is akin to the rise of Communism, please calm down.
College sport will survive.
And of course, it’s only getting what it deserves, what it has wrought. An NCAA rules book the thickness of a global dictionary will be trimmed to the width of a New York phone book. That’s good in itself.
Maybe someday soon players will even participate in the massive revenue they produce for the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament and the College Football Playoff.
Whiners scream: ‘‘But they already get a free education! I’d play D-1 football/basketball for free!’’
To which we respond, as always: Speak to the athletes who break legs, can’t afford proper clothes, leave college unable to read. And: If you can make an elite football/basketball team and get these “perks,’’ by all means, do.
In America talent gets paid for.
Nobody asked college football players if they wanted to go from 10 games a year to 14. Even 15.
Nobody asked athletes a lot of things.
Some of these players are 21, 22, even 23. Little kids? Little amateurs to bounce on your professional knee and chuck under the chins?
Give it a rest. You’re going to have to.