Toughest Job In The Nation

Most people might say that President Obama has the toughest job in the nation. Certainly the Presidency is a tough job and if toughness is measured in positive poll numbers, President Obama has a tough job.

But President Obama does not have the toughest job or the toughest task in America. Hmmm.

If not the President, then who?

In my book, the toughest job belongs to Mark Emmert, President of the NCAA.

The highly successful organization of college sports activities has grown so large and profitable that simply keeping the wealth from others (like the athletes upon whose performance the money stream is based) makes his job the most difficult.

In the olden days, there was a well developed notion of amateurism. Athletes competed for both the honor and exhilaration of competitive sports. Colleges picked up on this theme, and hence, followed the “student-athlete”. Receiving compensation was a dirty idea and broadly discouraged. If someone wanted to make money, they should turn professional, it was reasoned.

One success lead to another and many colleges and universities found that if they provided tuition and living expenses support, they could attract better athletes. Better athletes, in turn, produced even better winning teams. Winning teams produced sporting events that people would pay to see, and while attending these event, fans would buy souvenirs too. Along came ESPN, and the ideal of amateurism moved into the category of buggy whip.

Emmert’s organization is trying to defend then NCAA against a suit brought by college football players.  These players have had the names and images used to promote the NCAA (bringing in millions in TV revenue) without any student compensation or permission. Hmmm.

Emmert’s position is no way is the NCAA going to share these revenues. Students are students the NCAA alleges.

The NCAA legal team has put forward the notion that students should not receive a cut because not all colleges could afford to share their NCAA profit portion. Hmmm.

Let’s think about that. How far would that argument go if a school said it could not afford to pay the printer who produced college advertisements, or could not afford to pay the gardeners who made the campus so attractive?

To be sure, how much to pay student athletes is not an easy question to answer. It could be a flat fee (sort of like a more generous scholarship), or it could be more like the real world (like a percent of what the student athlete brings in).

Once this debate is opened, all the other real world issues will pop up, like strikes and lock outs etc.

My guess is that a wise Emmert would find some way to create a “fund” where all student athletes received a notional percent of the NCAA’s take. Upon graduation or at least four years, each student athlete would receive their “share”. The Johnny Maziel’s of the world would not like such a formula. These stars would opt for some formula that more closely tied performance to payout.

Never the less, offering to create an after graduation payout would put the NCAA on the “high” ground, rather than the hypocritical swamp they currently are clinging too.

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