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The NCAA argument

News Writer | Monday, September 23, 2013

I don’t know if you have heard, but there has been an awful lot of discussion lately about the current state of college athletics. Depending on who you’re talking to, the NCAA is either a gigantic, money-guzzling and power-hungry monstrosity that rakes in billions of dollars on the backs of its athletes, or is an aged institution that has the right intentions but just needs a little bit of tweaking.
Whatever your opinion may be, the fact of the matter is that after years of pretending this isn’t happening, it has now become common to discuss the various problems within the NCAA. So naturally, that means conversation will bring forth discussion, and discussion will bring about suggestions and suggestions will turn into reform. Right? But what if it doesn’t?
This past weekend, a couple of players for Northwestern, Georgia and Georgia Tech took the field having deliberately marked up their uniforms in a form of good old-fashioned exercising of their first amendment rights. Either on their wristbands or on their shoes or ankles, the players had scratched “APU,” or “All Players United.” The National College Players Association, an advocacy group that is pushing for NCAA reform, conceived the idea. According to the group’s website, their primary goals are showing support for players who joined concussion suits against the NCAA, standing behind individual players who are being “harmed by NCAA’s rules,” and to “demonstrate unity among college athletes and fans in favor of NCAA reform.”
 It certainly isn’t about the players.  All of this talk about college football reform is going absolutely nowhere.  I imagine that they would all be able to unite under an idea pretty easily enough. They know what it’s like to play the sport and make the choices they’ve made. It’s everyone else that makes it difficult.
In the end, it never goes any deeper than those surface-level arguments. And that’s the biggest problem. Because the truth is there is a growing amount of evidence that the NCAA needs to start changing its ways. But that change isn’t going to be simple. It’s going to take time, nuance and the admittance that compromise is vital in order to make anything improve and last longer.
If an institution that’s been around as long as the NCAA is going to make a fundamental change in its operations, it’s going to need to be convinced by a collective voice of people all unified in their goals and suggestions. Otherwise, we’re going to be stuck listening to talk radio and sports hosts filling up airtime with vapid arguments about the system for the next 20 years.