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Shameless money grab…

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I was reading a story this morning about how the changes to American college football conference membership, is in essence, ‘a shameless money grab’ in the opinion of one commentator. Let me just bring you up to speed briefly on the situation. American college football generates billions of dollars of revenue for the schools, sponsors, broadcasters, apparel makers and a host of beneficiaries. The fact that the students who play these games receive only a free education is an argument for another day. College football teams are arranged for the most part into conferences (with some teams having the cache to be independent) that are generally regional in their nature, though that has changed ever so slightly in the past few decades.

The conferences are essentially vehicles for generating money and prestige for the majority of teams. They make sure that teams play a regional schedule against ‘traditional’ opponents, and also that each team has the opportunity to play a challenging schedule. This challenging schedule gives good teams a fair chance of being considered for a spot in the National Championship Game (or a bowl game) which pays tens of millions to each participant and its conference. Now the conference take is then distributed evenly among the conference members.

Now without going into too much detail, college football is a dirty business. Amateur student-athletes are exploited in the extreme, receiving only a free education (which is a staple of other rich countries for everyone) while coaches and athletic directors salaries number into the millions of dollars. Currently there is a shake-up happening where some teams and conferences are changing their alliances, and one conference in particular is likely to implode. One thing you should know about college athletics is that it is an extremely political issue, with Obama even weighing in on the structure for deciding the national champion.

The thing is, this comment that the conference re-alignment is a ‘shameless money grab’ struck me as the most hypocritical of statements. For many of the reasons above, and some not listed college football itself is a money grab. The only question ever debated was really how to distribute all the money generated by these amateurs. Also, America is home to capitalism where you are urged to ‘get while the gettin’ is good’. Essentially, certain teams and conferences are capitalizing on the instability of others. Of course it’s a money grab, but to make it seem as if the perpetrators have less integrity or honor because of what they are doing is flat-out b.s.

The aspect I want to highlight is how in a capitalist society someone has the audacity to call someone else greedy. Unless you work for a non-profit, or work for the public good, or depend on donations for your livelihood, NO ONE has the ‘moral authority’ to call out someone else trying to make more money. I would ask that commentator how often they have changed jobs, insurance carriers, or mobile providers, or moved into a bigger apartment, or bought a new car, or improved their life in any way shape or form. Many such moves are to make more money but on such a small-scale it is seemingly insignificant. Now I do understand that scale plays a factor here in that everyone involved is rich (except the student-athletes) and seemingly should not have a need to make more money. Basically every institution that fields a team will always have the opportunity to play ball, and if they are fortunate, to win a National Championship.

However in our society and culture, where phrases like ‘do what your heart tells you to do’ and the like are so popular, and where everyone has their own set of values, who is to cast the first stone? No one is intent to sit on their laurels and be content with their lot. Whether we should or shouldn’t be content is not the issue here. Rather, the issue is how can you criticize someone else for doing essentially that which you practice often in your own life?


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  1. […] they all in agreement that he is a scoundrel. Now I thought back to a post where I wrote that “he who is without sin, let him cast the first stone”, or something like that. I was thinking about posting a comment linking it to the post on this […]

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