March 28, 2014
Quick Slant is an array of brief insights and occasionally opinionated overviews of collegiate athletics in general and the Vanderbilt Commodores in particular.
March Madness has produced some terrific games but this past week also produced some major media attention on two related off-the-field topics - unionization of student-athletes and paying student-athletes. Both topics are complex with nuances that could be discussed for hours. Therein lies the rub - most of the media doesn't have the resources to understand and report comprehensive perspective and most of the public doesn't have the patience to pay attention if they did. We live in a society where we want a 30-second summary, please, and make it to go because we have other things to do.
Quick Slant is certainly no place for an in-depth discussion but here are some quick take-aways. You probably won't hear or read much comment from the collegiate sports world about the Northwestern unionization decision (we assume you have heard there was one!) because it is being appealed and the process will be lengthy. Administrators don't like to comment on hypotheticals and things will change - that much is certain.
Secondly, there are some crusading journalists, professors and economists that are transfixed on the revenue generated by March Madness, huge network television contracts and by some super power programs. Pay the student-athletes that make this money, they exclaim! They appear to this writer to be incomplete in their analysis because they don't seem to understand that the revenues generated by these high profile units are divided among schools and go to fund non-revenue sport programs and supporting services. How does one think colleges can award tennis or soccer scholarships, hire staff or pay the bills? The revenue is being put back into the system, not into a Swiss bank account.
No question there are things in need of fixing in today's college athletics and they will get fixed, hopefully by cool heads and reasonable, smart minds.