There may not be three more intelligent people that write about college basketball than Jay Bilas, John Gasaway, and John Infante. Their latest
discussion circles around the state of amateurism in today’s NCAA climate.
Gasaway and Bilas
have essentially argued the same point — that the collegiate athletics has changed, and that allowing college players to retain their
amateurism while dealing with an agent would be beneficial and, more importantly, fair to these players that generate such a massive volume
Infante, formerly of the By Law Blog, disagrees. His argument is absolutely worth the five minutes it takes to read it, but that is not the most interesting point he makes in the piece. This is: The rules could be updated to address this change by expressly allowing, even promoting two majors: sport performance and sport education (i.e.
Such a move would reinforce the idea that college should prepare you for a professional career. It would acknowledge the idea that professional athletics is a viable career, even if only for a minuscule portion of the student-athlete population. The relatively small number of graduates making a living as full-time artists, musicians, or philosophers has not killed off those majors.
It would also promote the idea that the study of athletic performance is a meaningful academic endeavor, just as the study of musical or artistic
performance is. That would open an avenue for increased study of issues like concussions and overtraining. And it would provide a new source of
professionally trained coaches, particularly needed as specialization, injuries, and money continue to grow at the youth level.
Infante nails it. I’ve been making this point for quite a while now.
There is a lot of money to be made in the world of sports, whether it is as a player, a coach, a trainer, a journalist, a broadcaster, a television producer, sports management, a front office executive, a ticket salesmen, a hot dog vendor, what have you. Like it or not, at this point sports truly are a profession; there are careers that
involve so much more than simply being the guy that can dunk a basketball or throw a football 50 yards on a line.
There is a reason they are called “professional” sports.
Different educational programs can be developed for the different caliber of player. Maybe as freshmen, these kids could be forced to take classes in money
management, contract law, and any other class that will help them avoid going broke five years after their career is over. Players can be trained in CPR and emergency medical treatment so that if a situation like the one involving Emmanuel Negedu or Herb Pope should arise without a trainer or doctor present, these kids are
prepared to save a life. Wouldn’t it be great if all the players-turned-coaches at the lower levels of basketball — the levels that can’t afford a ten-man training staff — were prepared should one of their athletes collapse? How big of a difference is there between training a person to recognize excellence in a piece of art and potential excellence in a particular player?
As Infante says, these days college is about getting you prepared for whatever career you want to pursue.
What is wrong with training these kids for a career in sports?
And what, exactly, is the difference between a career in sports and a career in acting? Or dance? Or art?
Aren’t those “real” majors?