End the College Sports Scam

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‘Which scam?’ you ask, not unreasonably. So many to choose from, the layman loses track. In this case, I’m not talking about inflated grades, special jock-friendly majors, recruiting malfeasance, standardized-test failure, law-enforcement run-ins, special tutoring assistance, ludicrous expenditure on football locker-rooms, one-and-done basketballers, or any of the myriad picayune abuses of common sense and decency that make big-time college sports so delightfully reminiscent of a Byzantine court.

I mean the Enchilada of them all: the fact, as The Atlantic’s Conor Clarke reminds us, that some of America’s largest and most lucrative sports businesses pay no taxes. A tax exemption makes sense for the majority of collegiate sports, which don’t, and should not be expected to, make money. A college’s fencing or rowing team shouldn’t find itself subject to the profit imperative any more than the English Department should. I don’t mind subsidizing, in effect, the Texas Longhorns women’s volleyball program.

When you consider, however, that NCAA Division I football is something like a $2-billion annual enterprise; that colleges consistently respond to budget constraints by eliminating so-called “minor” sports so they can keep spending more money on football and men’s basketball; that a college football coach is the highest-paid public official in almost every state; and that boosters can write off the quid pro quo “donations” that buy them season tickets and special access—well, as a taxpayer, you start to feel like you’ve been cheated. While long and tortured discussion could ensue regarding sports’ proper place on campus and possible reforms to make the current whorehouse a bit more chaste, this change seems like it could be done in about 20 minutes.


About zachdundas

Freelance journalist. Author of The Renegade Sportsman (Riverhead Books). Thank you.
This entry was posted in College football, Sports and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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