The Latest Indentured Servant of College Football

 

College athletes today are treated much like indentured servants.  They get scholarships for a free education, a campus dorm, and meals.  However, the schools, and NCAA get the return of national coverage, sales from merchandise, and the notary to attract feature students and athletes, which keep the dollars flowing in.  Johnny “Football” Manziel is accused of trying make money of his own name by signing autographs on Texas A&M memorabilia and receiving thousands for it.  An allegation such as this, is a suspendable offense according to the NCAA.

Manziel captured the college football season by storm last year.  Leading the Texas A & M Aggies to an 11-2 record, becoming the 2012 SEC Offensive/Freshman Player of the year, 2012 First team All-American, and oh yeah a Heisman Trophy winner.  With so much accomplished in a short a time, instead of anticipating next years season, the media and college football fans around the world are waiting the next Johnny Football headline to emerge.

The attention following Johnny Football after being the only freshman to win the Heisman trophy is overwhelming.   Everyone with a cell phone camera is a reporter now, ready to post anything to Facebook, twitter, or another social media outlet.  If Johnny Football goes to a frat party or trying to attend class, his movements are going to be well documented. This makes the job of the NCAA, the governing body and discipline committee, easy if and when a scandal with one of their more famous players gets into trouble.

But if we examine the bigger picture, what Manziel is accused of is exactly what the NCAA is doing to him and many other college athletes.   Yes, Manziel did break a rule, that he knew about and that many past offenders knew (see Terrelle Pryor).  But the rule, as long with many others, is a bad rule.  Drugs, law-breaking offense, are unforgivable, and offenders should pay the price when they are caught.  However, sabotaging a young man’s career for making money off a celebrity he created on his own is the real crime.

Free education has been the major argument of compensation that these athletes earned during their high school playing careers. At the same time schools, such as Texas A&M earned over a whopping $60 million, and that’s only on their merchandising, according to Shane Hinckley of Texas A & M.  So the question remains, should college athletes be paid?  It’s not a cut and dry yes or no. Both sides to the argument make valid points.  What should be agreed on is that the current system is flawed, and down right unfair.  A possible solution, why not let the players who worked in high school to become the amazing athlete make their own money of their own name.  If a Gatorade wants to have Johnny Manziel in a commercial, let him work for his money and reap the spoils.  If Jadeveon Clowny attracts UnderArmor for a new shoe design, let him, on his own time represent that company, and ultimately get compensated.

These athletes have worked hard to be in the position they are in.  They have parents and coaches with their best interest at heart.  They don’t need the strong arm of the NCAA ready to pounce on any move they make.  It’s time for fresh ideas and minds to take over in the NCAA.  Times have changed and its time for the NCAA to follow suit.   The hype of Johnny Manziel is only going to be destroyed by one person, and that’s Johnny Manziel.  If he is able to block out the noise and preform next season, this part of his life will seem like a bad dream, and we will be seeing him on the podium come next NFL draft.

-Brian Zeidan

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