The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local Sports

February 17, 2014

Since when is college football not a business?

So the National Labor Relations Board hearings on the Northwestern University football team's proposal to form a union have just gotten under way, and we already have our first howler.

Here it is, from the mouth of Northwestern's vice president for university relations, Alan K. Cubbage: "We do not regard, and have never regarded, our football program as a commercial enterprise." OK, Alan, but you may be the only ones who don't. How, exactly, is an entity that sells tickets to its events - not to mention the national TV rights to broadcast those events - not engaging in commerce?

Not surprisingly, the claim - that big-time college sports do not represent commercial activity - has been consistently rejected by the courts. It also directly contradicts various statements made by the National Collegiate Athletic Association and its current and former officials.

Consider, for instance, a strategic report written in 2011 for the University of California at Davis by ex-NCAA President Cedric Dempsey. Davis had recently moved up from Division II to Division I, and the partly related fallout - specifically, the decision to cut some non-revenue-generating sports - had kicked up controversy on campus. Dempsey, who had become a consultant after leaving the NCAA, was hired to explain to everyone how the world of big-time college sports works. As he put it, Division II still uses an "educational model" that relishes "the history of noble amateurism." Division I, by contrast, is run on more of a "business model," with schools investing resources in the sports with the greatest potential to generate revenue. Hmmm.

Dempsey's successor at the NCAA, Myles Brand, put an even finer point on it. In a 2006 speech to NCAA members, Brand explained that "commercial activity" - like selling broadcast rights - is mandated by the "business plan." The failure to "maximize revenues," he said, would be "incompetence at best and malfeasance at worst."

It was just one of many occasions that Brand used to push the NCAA to embrace commerce - or to more enthusiastically embrace its commercial roots, which actually predate the existence of the organization itself. The very first intercollegiate competition, a regatta between Harvard and Yale on Lake Winnipesaukee in 1852, was the brainchild of the superintendent of the Boston, Concord and Montreal Railroad, who figured it would help fill his cars. It did. Before long, the Harvard-Yale regatta was an annual event to which both schools were selling tickets.

From these humble beginnings, big-time college sports were born. Now, a handful of collegiate football players wants a seat at the table where workplace conditions are being discussed. And the school that's trying to deny them that seat apparently can't come up with a more compelling argument than the self-evidently stupid claim that a multi-billion-dollar industry is not a commercial enterprise.



 

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • holdendavis.jpg Stanly All-Star 15 year-olds lose in championship finals

    The Stanly County 15 year-old All-Stars Babe Ruth Baseball team battled its way through the losers’ bracket after suffering a 10-9 loss to the Union County Americans to reach the championship finals.
    Stanly rallied to force a deciding third game but Union County prevailed to earn a trip to the regionals in Varina, Virginia.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • stanly14group.jpg Stanly All-Stars reach state championship round

    The Stanly 14 year-old All-Stars played in the state tournament this weekend at Noel Williams Park in Unionville and reached the championship round of play.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • stanly13bigger.jpg Stanly County 13-year old Babe Ruth Baseball squad claims state title

    Don Montgomery Park in Albemarle played host this weekend to the state championship tournament for the Western Divsion of Babe Ruth Baseball for 13 year olds.
    After having started with a win Friday night over Union County American, the Stanly County All-Stars posted three more victories en route to the tournament title and a berth into the regionals starting July 29 in Sarasota, Florida.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • West Stanly summer baseball team wraps up regular season at Scotland County

    In the final two games of the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League for the West Stanly squad, the Colts traveled to Scotland County for a doubleheader, making up for Tuesday’s rainout.

    July 22, 2014

  • jakeclayton.jpg Three Stanly All-Star Babe Ruth teams open play in state tournaments

    Three Babe Ruth Baseball teams from Stanly County  began play in their respective state tournaments on Friday night with victories, two of which came in events conducted locally.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Albemarle High School athletic director resigns

    The athletic program at Albemarle High School will undergo another change in personnel after the recent resignation of its head football coach.

    July 17, 2014

  • deanlowder.jpg Albemarle fireman and policeman race in school buses at Charlotte Motor Speedway

    Pulling into Charlotte Motor Speedway, the first thing one may think about is getting in one of those really fast cars and taking a spin around the track.
    Cracking the motor, hearing the roar, tearing down the front stretch at 200 mph with numerous other cars doing the same. The rush, excitement and adrenaline pumping all while maintaining focus and poise as you power the aggressive vehicle around the track.

    July 17, 2014 3 Photos

  • williams.jpg North Stanly's Antonio Williams decommits to UNC-Chapel Hill

    North Stanly standout running back Antonio Williams announced via Twitter on Saturday he has withdrawn his verbal committment to attend and play football at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • bobcat.jpg Uwharrie Bobcats suffer loss, bounce back for home victory

    The Uwharrie Bobcats 70+ slow pitch softball team, along with four other Piedmont Senior Slow Pitch League (PSSL) teams, participated in a league tournament at Rock Creek Park Saturday.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • curciomug2014.jpg Can you really go home again?

    The big news that flashed across the screens of smartphones, tablets, laptops, computers and televisions on Friday concerned the return of NBA star Lebron James to Cleveland after four years in Miami.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Seasonal Content