While the NCAA’s March Madness tournament played out, a more significant battle was taking place. A federal labor official ruled that college athletes are, in fact, employees of the school. Perhaps they’re the most grossly underpaid on staff. This comes as no surprise, having grown up in south Georgia, where even at the high school level sports are serious business. It isn’t unusual to see a star player (from a family of modest means) somehow driving a new convertible his junior or senior year.
The defense that scholarships compensate doesn’t hold weight today. It isn’t exactly fair barter. At the very least we can treat athletes with humanity, not gladiators risking their lives for blood-thirsty masses, ultimately to maintain order and bolster politicians. Our spectacle of American football hearkens back to those ancient games. It hasn’t evolved all that much.
Were priorities not backward we’d pay more attention to science fairs, spelling bees and local quiz bowl tournaments. Buffet’s billion would be awarded to those bracket winners across the nation. My favorite of these is “High-Q,” which exists in slightly varied formats across the states. I tend to root for public schools vs. private, the smallest or whichever team has the most minorities. I’ll double down for a mixed race team with females from a small town public school.