Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not Perfect

In the original Miracle on 34th Street Kris Kringle befriends a young man named George that works at Macy's. The store psychologist ,Mr. Sawyer, takes an interest in the young man and plays Dr. Freud telling Alfred that his desire to play Santa to the neighborhood kids was because he was trying to make up for something had done wrong earlier in his life. George explains this to Mr. Kringle over lunch adding that the never knew he had these problems until Mr. Sawyer told him.

Michael Lewis recent wrote an Op-Ed for the New York times where he sees the warts of college football and recommends a combination of open heart surgery with a double amputation. Being as polite as possible on this next statement, "Mr. Lewis with all due respect for your opinion the idea of paying college football players is at best ill-considered and when looked at with some knowledge of the subject is silly." Michael Lewis's reputation is formidable and it is difficult to imagine that he did not fully question his idea before putting it to paper.

But let’s keep it conservative. In 2005, the 121 Division 1-A football teams generated $1.8 billion for their colleges. If the colleges paid out 65 percent of their revenues to the players, the annual college football payroll would come to $1.17 billion. A college football team has 85 scholarship players while an N.F.L. roster has only 53, and so the money might be distributed a bit differently.

Let's do the math, 121 * 85 * 2 (Title IX require a female scholarship for each male) is about 20,000 (rounded down) and dividing the $1.17 billion gives each $58,500 which is paid by the free tuition ($20,000 per year) they are given with the balance coming in the form of extra future income over someone without a college degree. Add to this that the schools must maintain separate facilities ranging from Michigan's "Big House" to Idaho State's Holt Area and then there are the other expenses ranging from the soccer field to coaching staff that each of these school carries.

At this point the comparison with the NFL is beginning to look remote at best. Looking further into the money side of the issue, the NFL shares television money more or less equally while the TV revenue in college football goes from millions down to couple hundered thousands. Not looking at the numbers (but feeling completely safe in asserting), the total TV money for the Sun Belt is less than the slice of the pie for the least of the SEC schools making the payment of players theoretically possible at Mississippi State but out of the question at Troy State.

There are players that walk on to the team looking for nothing more than living the dream and others that have opted to play football rather than taking a shot in baseball (with a signing bonus). Not all of life's decisions are purely economic, dollars and cents, profit and loss. The vast majority of college players are at the end of their playing football careers. These serf's are looking for the chance to compete playing the game they love and hopefully getting the reward of not only that chance but an education as well.

The serf was tied to the land without the freedom will to choose their future. The average college football player is exercising his free will and mostly for better chooses their path. Returning to the Miracle On 34th Street analogy, Michael Lewis, while college football is by no means prefect there is not the problem here that you perceive. Not to worry BCF doesn’t have a cane.


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