Advertisement

Commentary: The way college athletes are treated is 'Madness' all right

Because of a calendar-shifting rule change enacted in May by the NCAA, the official start of practice for NCAA Division I men's basketball teams tipped off Friday - Sept. 27 - whereas, NBA teams opened their training camps on Saturday, the 28th. Yes, unpaid college athletes went back to work a day earlier than their well-paid professional counterparts.
Prior to the 2013-2014 season, teams were not permitted to practice before (midnight on) the Friday closest to Oct. 15. However, last spring the NCAA amended the rule; permitting teams 30 days of practice during the 42 days prior to the first day on which games are permitted to be scheduled-the second Friday in November. The original revisionist's intent was to allow for 30 practice days during the 40 days prior to the first game(s). However, the 40-day window would have opened on a Sunday (the 29th); and, the NCAA, never one to pass up on a chance to make a marketing dollar, added the two additional days so that the window would open on a Friday; bettering the opportunity for schools to host fan-friendly mid-afternoon, early-evening, or even better, prime-time Madness events.
Maryland's own, Lefty Driesellm started the Midnight Madness tradition; holding his team's first practice of the 1971 season at 12:03 am. [For those who care, this year's Benedict Terrapins are ironically paying homage to their ACC roots by hosting their Midnight Madness events in Cole Field House on Oct. 18.]
Amicus Curiae is a legal term meaning, literally, a friend of the court; and is defined as, "a person with strong interest in or views on the subject matter of an action, but not a party to the action, [who] may petition the court for permission to file a brief, ostensibly on behalf of a party but actually to suggest a rationale consistent with its own views."
Briefs filed by these friend(s) of the court, called amicus briefs, are most commonly seen in "cases where issues of public interest - such as social questions or civil liberties - are being debated."
Perhaps, framed against the backdrop of unpaid college basketball players going back to work a day earlier than their professional counterparts, Jay Bilas, Coach K., and/or e.g. Commissioner Stern, two of the three lawyers themselves, and each and all with unique and relevant perspectives and interests in the outcome of the case, could draft and submit persuasive amicus briefs in the O'Bannon law suit.
Free Market Economy and [the] Organization of Labor, topics once reserved for the Law & Economics class(es) attended by student-athletes, now use the student-athlete (employee?) and NCAA athletics as case studies for contemporary application(s) of these same legal and socio-economic(s) theories.
Despite being founded in 1954, it was not until 10 years later when, on the eve of its first-ever televised All Star Game, the NBA Players Association, on the threat of a collective refusal by its All Star players to take the court for that All Star Game, gained the respect of, and bargaining power against, NBA team owners.
Fast forward, or rewind, to the NFL lockout of 2011. Among the points of contention between players and ownership were concerns and disputes over the notions of extending the preseason schedule, adding games, and about the number and frequency of mandatory off-season workouts.
What would happen if the captains of, and players on, the four teams competing in the upcoming season's NCAA Men's Basketball Final Four got together and decided, on the literal eve thereof, that their respective teams would collectively refuse to take the court? What if a student-athlete equivalent of a players' union was formed among NCAA athletes? Though it could not label itself as a "union" as that term is reserved for an organization of paid laborers, perhaps the student-athletes could form a "collective"; leveraging solidarity to advance shared goals.
If you love the game you play you don't mind the extra practices. However, extending the season is another example of the powers that be - and that benefit monetarily - changing the rules of the game to benefit themselves.
Capitalistic intent and the accumulation of wealth is again demonstrated to be of paramount interest to the NCAA; student-athlete well-being, particularly the education(s) thereof, becoming a secondary concern at best, and collateral damage as a result, depending on your pejorative.
Like Jesse Owens in the 1936 Olympics, and Tommy Smith and John Carlos in the 1968 Olympics, athletes and sports are providing contemporary case studies for pending social revolution(s). NCAA football and basketball are serving as microcosms for the growing tensions between bourgeoisie and proletariat, socio-economic theory, and the (would-be or potential) role of the free market economy therein and there-upon.

Advertisement
Advertisement