I don't get agitated very easily, but I'm getting more and more perturbed when it comes to the matter of paying college student-athletes. My most recent agitation stems from an article I mentioned in Thursday's Badger Bits about Scott Tolzien and Chris Borland wanting more money dedicated to scholarships as well as their grumblings about the meals they had during their playing days at Wisconsin. Tolzien mentioned peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, while Borland mentioned ramen noodles.
Before I go on my tirade, I need to give you some background information. I've had my fair share of experience with Division I athletics, outside of actually playing them. I was a student-manager for the women's basketball team for the 2011-12 season, and I have decently strong relationships with former and current student-athletes, both at Wisconsin and elsewhere. Plus, during the 2012 spring semester, I was enrolled in Education Leadership and Policy Analysis 940: Intro to Collegiate Athletics, filled with about a quarter of the basketball team, a football player at the time and a former football player, among others. For reference, the ELPA program is a destination for a slew of Wisconsin's student-athletes who finish up their degrees before their eligibility expires. Most notably, Russell Wilson and Ryan Evans enrolled in the program.
Video of the Day
Video of the Day
I know practically every DI student-athlete's likeness in a revenue-generating sport is exploited. They're plastered on billboards, tickets, etc., but this isn't uncommon among athletics. Read the back of your ticket the next time you go to a game, and you'll find in the fine print that you can't do anything if the organization uses your likeness for promotional reasons. One young lady tried to do this with the Orlando Magic, suing the team for $15,000, and, well, she failed. The organization "settled" by simply removing her likeness from the platforms it was used on.
Aside from the student-athlete's likeness, which will eventually be resolved with EA Sports recently settling to pay each player who appeared in its college football video game up to $20,000, it comes down to making sure every athlete who walks through the doors of their respective arena getting their worth rewarded. Yes, I am aware of the fact they play in front of thousands and thousands of fans and receive $0.00 for that, but that's a lie.
It's called a full-ride scholarship, a.k.a tuition, books, and room and board. And while Shabazz Napier would like to suggest otherwise, these student-athletes aren't starved. If you're familiar with the UW campus, you might have heard of the Red Card, which essentially equates to a credit card for places like Qdoba, Capriotti's, Potbelly and more. I'm not going to speak for other sports, but the women's basketball team, which included myself, was allotted a total of $12 on that card throughout the offseason. It wasn't every day, but it was plenty. Let me tell ya: it was awesome. On top of this all, again sticking with the women's basketball team, student-athletes received a per diem of 'x' amount of money after games. Let's also not forget the food they get at the training table after practice, which is standard for a lot of sports.
Intertwined with all of this is riding on a charter to just about every road game (the NCAA mandates how many games teams can travel through air), having academic support waiting at their feet and receiving free gear that could easily last them throughout their entire collegiate playing career. Heck, I almost forgot: they get more free gear when they go to the conference tournament. They, mainly the football team, get even more free stuff, and it's really, really nice stuff, when they make it to a bowl game. What free stuff, you ask? Oh, you know, just a $500 spending spree to Best Buy.
It's an age-old saying that you have to pay your dues before you've "made" it, and this saying is all but dead with college athletics.
Jared Abbrederis was the first player from UW to be selected by the Green Bay Packers under the direction of general manager Ted Thompson, and Packers.com gives its list of the five best players who made the transition from Madison to Green Bay.
Russell Wilson has made quick work of becoming one of the league's best quarterbacks, and he was tabbed as a second-tier NFL quarterback (Insider). Sticking with how some former Badgers stack up in the NFL, three made the top 20 of NFL Network's list of the 100 best players.
Ben Brust and Jordan Taylor will relive their playing days as teammates, as they're both on the Milwaukee Bucks' summer league roster.
Sad face. OK, big-time sad face.
Michigan's response is just as clever.
@BadgerMBB Same.— Michigan Basketball (@umichbball) July 3, 2014