Chapter Six- The NCAA’s “Whiff of the Plantation” (Critical Reponse Blog)

Chapter six in Zirin’s “Game Over..How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down” describes the NCAA sporting landscape and the mess it has become. The policies of the NCAA have changed it into a capitalistic sports machine which is much more concerned with negotiating multi-million dollar television contracts than it is with taking care of the young athletes it continues to exploit. As tuition’s rise for students to attend university, millions of dollars are invested in ensuring the ‘student’-athletes have the most modern equipment to train with and that the bathrooms in their training facilities are finished with marble. Coaching salaries at the biggest schools in the country continue to climb closer to the $2 million dollar average, all the while educational faculty members are being laid off or are forced to take unpaid furloughs. From reading the chapter, it would appear as though these universities are suffering from an identity crisis as they search to define themselves as a type of farm-system for leagues like the NFL and NBA.

The NCAA is a streamlined and cost-efficient league to run, as the players do not draw a salary and are not privy to injury compensation. As former Syracuse All-American linebacker Dave Meggyesy states in the chapter, football has become a 365-day a year, full-time job for these students. While these players put themselves at risk for no compensation, the NCAA makes vast amounts of money off everything from video game licensing to television rights. Zirin compares the system too a plantation in the chapter, and quotes former LSU coach Dale Brown stating that the NCAA uses “predominately poor black kids” to pad their pockets.

It is clear that the NCAA must reevaluate their policies on paying student athletes and cut them in on the massive profits being made. It is high-time to compensate the labourers who drive the business of the NCAA, especially when it comes to injury compensation. Universities are supposed to prepare you for life and put you a step ahead, it is not their function to use you as cheap (free) labour. If the NCAA is going to function like a professional big-time sports league, which it more or less is, it must take care of their players and compensate them for their hard work and talents which drive their business.


Zirin, D. (2013). Game over: How politics has turned the sports world upside down. (pp. 107-119). New York, United States of America: The New Press.

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One Response to Chapter Six- The NCAA’s “Whiff of the Plantation” (Critical Reponse Blog)

  1. nickbutts says:

    This article brings up an interesting argument in that NCAA athletes have become athlete-students rather than student-athletes. A great representation of this issue can be seen in ESPN’s “The Fab Five” documentary which explores the perspective of five basketball players who played for the University of Michigan in the mid 1990’s. Most of the athletes interviewed in this documentary felt like they were being used and exploited by the NCAA. NCAA athletes generate a ton of revenue for their respective schools and the NCAA but are not being compensated for it. Some revenue does go back to the players in terms of scholarships and equipment, however, the majority is simply pocketed by the school s for their personal agendas. I believe that a percentage of revenue generated by merchandise sales should be given back to the student-athletes as the majority of these athletes will never play professionally and have earned that money. Either stop using players names and photos for merchandise or compensate them.

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