The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

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
Sports
  • hunterdavis.jpg Stanly County Baseball Notebook

    In high school baseball games this week, West Stanly faced a non-conference matchup before two critical Rocky River Conferene games, while Albemarle also ventured out of conference play with a home game against West Montgomery.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • tjsmith.jpg North Stanly's T.J. Smith receives offer to play football at Dartmouth

    It was last spring when North Stanly head coach Ralph Jackson was approached by a student who wanted more than anything to become a Divsion. I collegiate football player.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pfeiffer women's basketball coach resigns

    Pfeiffer head women’s basketball coach Roy Dow resigned his position with the university on Monday, according to school officials.

    April 17, 2014

  • jayandrew.jpg Gray Stone wins golf match at Tillery Tradition; Albemarle's Jay Andrew wins medalist honors

    In a Yadkin Valley Conference West golf matchup on Monday at the Tillery Tradition Golf Club in Mount Gilead, the Gray Stone Knights claimed the team win but it was an Albemarle golfer that claimed the individual title.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ws1600.jpg West Stanly girls place third at RRC track meet

    The Rocky River Conference championship track meet was held this past Wednesday at Monroe High School.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • aaronroten.jpg South Stanly tennis tops North Stanly

    Monday’s tennis matches marked the end of the regular season for the teams of the Yadkin Valley Conference West.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • hopemoua.jpg Gray Stone girls' soccer earns wins

    The Gray Stone women’s soccer team rebounded from the team’s first loss of the season to Union Academy by winning the next four matches on the schedule, including wins over North Moore 7-0, Chatham Central 10-1 and a 7-0 win over South Stanly on Monday night.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • bomb1 VIDEO: A year after marathon bombing, Boston remains strong

    The City of Boston came together Tuesday to honor those who were injured and lost their lives at the Boston Marathon on the one-year anniversary of the bombing. While the day was sure to be emotional, those affected by last year's race are showing they won't let the tragedy keep them down.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • tylerhuneycutt.jpg Stanly County Baseball Notebook

    In high school baseball games this week, conference play was the focus as the teams of Stanly County faced key conference challenges.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • heidismith.jpg Stanly County Softball Notebook

    In high school softball games this week, West Stanly moved one game closer to clinching the regular-season conference title, while North Stanly faced Queen’s Grant in a doubleheader.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Seasonal Content