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Appreciate what you are offered

Monica VanBladel | Thursday, November 19, 2009

 Earlier this week, Scholastic published an article examining the issue of whether or not student athletes should be awarded a portion of the revenue they bring to the University through private business deals. The article was a thoughtful consideration of the issue, but was unfortunately overshadowed by one quotation from a member of our football team. I am going to repeat this quotation in its entirety, simply so everyone who’s behind in reading their school publications can experience the full effect:

“Other student athletes, however, question the notion that receiving a scholarship is enough in return for the money they generate. One member of the football team says, ‘The slaves were provided a house to stay. They were given meals, but in the grand scheme of things they had nothing at the end of the day. That’s a harsh comparison, but it’s essentially modern-day slavery.'”  (Scholastic, “Should Student-Athletes Be Paid?,” Nov. 12).

This metaphor, though acknowledged by the speaker as “harsh,” is both inapplicable and inappropriate. Let’s accept that the application of this analogy is valid: slaves with a 60 percent success rate would suffer consequences much graver than the occasional tired Observer comic strip or disparaging comments from the likes of Mark May. If the unpaid football program were truly “essentially modern-day slavery,” a 6-4 record would be met with dire retribution.

It should go without saying that slavery is not a joking matter. Dehumanizing one’s fellow men and women, subjecting them to relentless manual labor and indescribable abuse? Yeah, they don’t get free tutoring or trips to college campuses across the nation. I realize this athlete’s statement may have been offered in jest, but both within the context of the article and in the larger scheme of the issue, it is distasteful and entirely preposterous. His attitude toward the privilege of attending and representing Notre Dame (which he chose of his own free will) is unappreciative and deluded. Thousands of people across the country would gladly take his place at this school. Regardless of whether or not student athletes deserve a portion of the profits they bring to this university, at the end of the day they are receiving a valuable, world-class education; I hope this particular football player is duly appreciative of this opportunity.


Monica VanBladel


Farley Hall

Nov. 17