More NCAA Discrimination Against Athletes With Stupid Amateurism Rules

When I was a senior at Princeton, Brooke Shields was a freshman.  At the time of her matriculation, she was already a highly paid professional model and actress (Blue Lagoon).  No one ever suggested that she not be allowed to participate in the amateur Princeton Triangle Club shows because she was already a professional.

When I was a sophomore at Princeton, I used to sit in my small dining hall (the now-defunct Madison Society) and listen to a guy named Stanley Jordan play guitar in a really odd way.  Jordan was already a professional musician (a few years after he graduated he would release an album that was #1 on the jazz charts for nearly a year).  Despite the fact that Jordan was a professional and already earned a lot of money from his music, no one ever suggested that he not be allowed to participate in a number of amateur Princeton music groups and shows.

My daughter is an art major at a school called Art Center in Pasadena (where she upsets my preconceived notions of art school by working way harder than I did in college).  She and many, if not most of her fellow students have sold their art for money already, but no one as ever suggested that they not be allowed to participate in school art shows and competitions.

And then there are athletics.

 A football player for the University of Central Florida has lost his place in the team, and hence his scholarship, due to his YouTube channel. UCF kicker Donald De La Haye runs "Deestroying," which has over 90,000 subscribers and has amassed 5 million views, thus far. It's not the channel itself that cost him his scholarship, though -- it's the fact that he has athletics-related videos on a monetized account.

The NCAA saw his videos as a direct violation to its rule that prohibits student athletes from using their status to earn money. UCF's athletics department negotiated with the association, since De La Haye sends the money he earns from YouTube to his family in Costa Rica. The association gave him two choices: he can keep the account monetized, but he has to stop referencing his status as a student athlete and move the videos wherein he does. Or, he has to stop monetizing his account altogether. Since De La Haye chose not to accept either option, he has been declared inelegible to play in any NCAA-sanctioned competition, effectively ending his college football career.

When I was a sophomore at Princeton, my sister was a Freshman.  We were sitting in my dorm the first week of school, watching US Open tennis as we were big tennis fans at the time.  My sister told me that she still had not heard from her fourth roommate yet, which was sort of odd.  About that time, the semifinals of the US Open were just beginning and would feature an upstart named Andrea Leand.  My sister says, hey -- that's the name of my roommate.  And so it was.  Andrea was a professional tennis player, just like Brook Shields was already a professional actress and Stanley Jordan was already a professional musician.  But unlike these others, Andrea was not allowed to pursue her talent at Princeton.

I don't know if student athletes should be paid by the school or not.  We can leave that aside as a separate question.  People of great talent attend universities and almost all of them -- with the exception of athletes -- are allowed to monetize that talent at the same time they are using it on campus.  Athletes should have the same ability.

Postscript:  I wrote about this years ago in Forbes.    As I wrote there:

The whole amateur ideal is just a tired holdover from the British aristocracy, the blue-blooded notion that a true "gentleman" did not actually work for a living but sponged off the local [populace] while perfecting his golf or polo game.  These ideas permeated British universities like Oxford and Cambridge, which in turn served as the model for many US colleges.  Even the Olympics, though,  finally gave up the stupid distinction of amateur status years ago, allowing the best athletes to compete whether or not someone has ever paid them for anything.

In fact, were we to try to impose this same notion of "amateurism" in any other part of society, or even any other corner of University life, it would be considered absurd.  Do we make an amateur distinction with engineers?  Economists?  Poets?...

In fact, of all the activities on campus, the only one a student cannot pursue while simultaneously getting paid is athletics.  I am sure that it is just coincidence that athletics happens to be, by orders of magnitude, far more lucrative to universities than all the other student activities combined.

  • Hal_10000

    The NCAA's rules make a lot more sense when you realize they are about making sure any and all monies relating to college athletes go exclusively into their greedy little fists. It's why they suspend players for selling memorabilia or autographs; because that money is supposed to be theirs, not the player's. I understand the argument that players are getting a valuable education. While high-profile programs are iffy, the vast majority of scholarship athletes will graduate with better GPA's than non-athletes and go on to great success in life. But depriving stars of *any* revenue stream is pure avarice.

  • SamWah

    Oh, no. SURELY there's a totally valid reason for this! /sarc

  • bloke in france

    I think you're being a bit unfair and unhistorical about this Warren
    Did Gates and Suckerman need to drop out to make their billions?

    On a smaller scale, Maro Itoje is a great rugby player, origin Nigeria, and still at SOAS, (v leftist uni, but..)

    And you have 20,000 middle aged white blokes singing a song in his praise at the Lions tour in NZ. See u tube.

  • herdgadfly

    Paying student athletes is the latest supposed war against amateurism but full-ride scholarships are worth upwards of a quarter of a million dollars to these poor abused jocks. What about all the profits accruing to universities from football and basketball ticket and TV revenues? The answer is that Title IX is sucking a whole bunch of the money to pay for non-revenue sports, and by gosh, these athletes are amateurs as well on full scholarship.

    The fact is that the NCAA is a liberal organization set up by liberal college presidents seeking complete control over the students. There simply is nothing left to say. As ticket prices rise, attendance falls and college sports popularity will fall if the current trend on cable sports channels continues where we will all be faced with pay-per-view.

  • DirtyJobsGuy

    I had a friend who used to race Formula Ford open wheel cars at Lime Rock in Connecticut The Formula Ford class was intended to be a low cost competition using cheap ford Cortina engines etc. About that time racing became trendy in Hollywood. Celebrities used to show up with spare cars, mechanics etc. in the Formula ford class. One day Tom Cruise showed up (not a great driver). All my friend could remember was how short Cruise was in person. Part of the amateur vs professional distinction was to keep the competition somewhat even with respect to trainers, equipment etc. Today at the Olympic level it is effectively professional even in obscure sports. If the level of completion rises so high that the edge requires near full time training then everyone is professional even if they don't make much money.

  • marco73

    It even extends to after the athletes are done playing. Bill Russell's jersey and pictures from his college playing days in San Francisco are available for purchase on the official NCAA site. And Mr. Russell receives zero money for his image. I believe there was a lawsuit concerning video game images of other college players, but the images of a college basketball player from 50 years ago are still owned by the NCAA.

  • Recovering libertarian

    We get it, Warren, you went to Princeton.

  • kidmugsy

    Princesston.

  • jdgalt

    Between this idiocy and the much older problem that the federal government forces colleges to disregard the fact that more men than women like to play and watch sports, I don't see why anyone, except college administrators, is still willing to support or participate in the NCAA. It would make much more sense for those teams to move off campus and cut their official ties with the colleges they now represent.

    Everyone involved would benefit -- except the colleges, which would have to try to replace the funds the sports now bring in by asking their students, donors, and/or taxpayers for more money. (They probably wouldn't get it, but then, most of today's campuses are in the hands of cultural Marxists so bad that they deserve to go bankrupt anyway -- and likely will, if we can just make federal and state governments stop forcing taxpayers to bail them out.)

  • tmitsss

    What's the Ancient Greek word for amateur?

  • Griz Hebert

    Snowflaketon.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "Today at the Olympic level it is effectively professional even in obscure sports."

    The modern Olympics have always been professional. That Olympic athletics are amateur has never been anything other than a myth.

    The US is the only country that has sent true amateurs to compete in the modern Olympics. At the first of the modern Olympic games, except for the US every country sent military or police personnel that had been given a 4 year leave, with pay, from their normal duties in order to train full time under government paid coaches.

  • Screen Man

    Clay Travis of Outkick the Coverage has been talking about this kind of crap for years and examples like this continue to prove him right, the NCAA is anti-Capitalism and anti-Free Market. What is wrong with the kids selling their own services, their own talents to make as much money as possible? Answer: Nothing, it's only something in the eyes of the greedy, disgusting, progressive NCAA.

  • jimc5499

    "Paying student athletes is the latest supposed war against amateurism but full-ride scholarships are worth upwards of a quarter of a million dollars to these poor abused jocks."

    And if they sustain a injury that prevents them from playing their sport at a competitive level that full ride goes away like dry ice on a 100 degree day.

  • DaveK

    To take a phrase from Instapundit, there are far more opportunities for graft when "amateur" athletics are controlled by a highly structured bureaucracy.

  • marque2

    Even in the US and England there is sponsorship. Athletes wouldn't be able to attend if they didn't get donations to do so. Those donations are basically (wink wink) payments for the Olympians athletic ability. Don't see much difference in that and buying candy bars for school sports or Gasp! Selling a tee shirt with your name on it to raise funds.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "Even in the US and England there is sponsorship."

    That only covers trips to the national tryouts and to the Olympics themselves. Those sponsorships don't cover 4 years of living expenses so the athletes can train full time.

  • DaveK

    It's rather surprising to see so many prominent actors who are relatively short in stature. It's usually well hidden on-screen, so seeing the reality is often a bit of a jolt. The shrinks might say the turn to acting in order to be something that they are not.

  • marque2

    I think you missed my point. Your point is that other countries are much worse about faking amiturism. My point is. Even in the US is you do.it the right way, you get a wink and a nod. My point is where do you draw the line. Why is "earning donations" through you lemonade stand better than earning money, say, writing about your sport, or.getting sponsored to go. The reasoning seems rather capricious.

  • mlhouse

    1. Sorry, but there aint no corruption in the college level amateur theatricals. So, "recruiting" Brooke Shields to your drama department isn't going to shift your team up 15 in the bowl standings and perhaps earn your university tens of millions of dollars to ;

    2. Spend on lavish travel and facility for university athletic personnel and administration.

    AS far as paying athletes, I get that the colleges and universities make profits (in some cases, less than what people think). But they already "pay" the student athletes tens of thousands of dollars in full ride scholarships and you have to look where the true branding value lies. That is, my alma mater is the University of Minnesota. Total sports revenues at the school are over $100 million but athletic expenses excede revenues by about $10 million. But, if you took all of the players and coaches away from the University, and instead created semi-pro teams that played other semi-pro teams from the other Big Ten schools, their revenues would be zilch.

    People pay big time money to attend college sporting events and raise big time advertising revenues because people want to watch college sports, not the specific players on the team.

  • Mark Alger

    FC Cincinnati plays on the campus of the University of Cincinnati, an institution of the State of Ohio. I understand this is a temporary situation, until the club can get their own stadium built elsewhere in the city, but it may prove to be a useful model for college sports.

  • Matthew Slyfield

    "My point is where do you draw the line."

    There is a very large difference between using donations/sponsorships to cover the expense of competing and earning a living from being an athlete.

    If the police/military personnel I mentioned still had to perform the normal duties they were nominally being paid for while training on the side that would be proper amateurism, but that isn't how it worked.

  • Gilligan

    And the pro-leagues, where team owners collude* to force them into the lower-paying NCAA system.

    *yes, it's a union contract. But the affected players aren't union members.