I just watched the controversial Miley Cyrus thing. You can watch it above.
First off, it’s way overblown.
Second, I think the most off-putting thing about it, and perhaps this is what people are reacting to, is that Ms. Cyrus seems like she is trying way too hard. If her schtick is that she’s the good girl turned bad, that’s not a bad thing to go with, but she doesn’t really seem to have thought it through any further than that. It seems like her entire plan was to just go out there, stick out her tongue and gesticulate a lot, and that was going to be it. She just doesn’t seem confident in the persona she’s created. I think that internal tension and lack of confidence comes through in her performance and that is why it feels so weird to watch her and Mr. Thicke on stage together.
Now, to cleanse your pallette, he’s Lady Gaga’s excellent performance of Applause from earlier in the night:
I’ve written before about my feelings regarding the NCAA and athlete pay. Regarding the investigation into Johnny Manziel, I think that if he did indeed break the rules and sell autographs, then he should be suspended. I don’t believe that this is because he did something morally wrong, and I definitely don’t think that the rules against players profiting from signatures are just. But college football fans need to face what it means to actually enforce the rules on the books. If the NCAA determines that Manziel broke the rules and they do not suspend him, they’ll be letting themselves off easy.
One of the main arguments against paying players is that it will allow elite schools to purchase the best recruits, thus reducing the relatively decent amount of parity that currently exists in the league. Keeping parity among the league is an extremely important goal, and people are correct to be concerned about it. But it has become abundantly clear that there are plenty of legitimate ways for elite schools to use their spending power to get better recruits. We need only to look at the photos in those articles to see how.
Amy Daughters writes in favor of amateurism. She’s done some good work digging into the numbers and found that only 79 out of 126 Division I NCAA football programs make a profit. She then argues that this means that very few schools are actually able to afford to pay players. This argument fails on a number of counts.
First, player pay wouldn’t necessarily come out of revenue. It could come out of things like facilities (as it probably would at Oregon and Alabama) or lower pay for coaches, fewer tutors or training programs. Anything that football programs currently spend money on could theoretically be spent on player salaries instead.
Second, she argues that even among schools that do have a net revenue, there is a wide discrepancy between the amount that even positive-revenue schools would be able to pay players. She states:
First, the entire power structure in college football would be turned on its head if say Kansas State could sign players with fat $200,000 contracts, while in-state rival Kansas offered potential recruits a mere $25,000 per year.
Why would Kansas State pay players $200k when they know that in-state rival Kansas can only pay $25k. If these numbers are correct, and Kansas State wants to lure away a recruit from Kansas, they could probably do so with a $40k salary no problem. They’d never spend 5 times that much on a player’s salary just because they had the money to do so.
This brings me to the next point: If schools were allowed to give players a salary, I doubt that salary would be that high. Even today, there are many players on a team that are receiving no scholarship whatsoever. They choose to play football because it’s meaningful to them. I see no reason why this dynamic would not continue under a salaried regime. We know that there are a fair number of players who will play for no compensation because they’re already doing it.
As for the elite players, the players who might be able to actually command a salary, the cartel nature of the NCAA will continue to keep wages down just as it currently is. Since elite players need to use the NCAA as a stepping stone to the NFL, they face a lot of incentive to play NCAA football for a low wage. Getting a shot at the NFL can be incredibly lucrative and if you’re an NFL-caliber player, you’re not going to refuse to play college football. One can envision a situation where the NCAA legalizes giving players salaries but the teams all collude and decide not to pay players more than X amount. THIS IS WHAT THE NCAA ALREADY DOES. Players who have hopes of playing in the NFL have no choice but to go along with the system.
Since the level of salary that a player can command is likely to be small, it might actually help smaller schools compete against top-tier programs. Kansas is unlikely to be able to scrape together enough money to build a $68 million training facility as Oregon did, but they can afford to pay a few players a five figure salary. This actually might help non-notable but profitable teams like Kansas compete with top-tier programs. A mid-level quarterback recruit, with only minor prospects of ever playing in the NFL, will face a tough decision between sitting on the bench at a prestige school for no salary, hoping for a lucky break, or going to a lower prestige school and getting paid to do so. This has potential to increase parity as not-the-best-but-still-good players would be encouraged to go play for schools that are willing to pay a premium for their services.
Under the current system, elite schools are already finding legitimate ways to use their spending power to entice recruits to their campus. They use their money to build impressive facilities. Also, given that we already know that there are many players who are willing to play football for no monetary gain, we have no reason to believe that player salaries would be particularly high if we allowed them to be paid. Additionally, lower-prestige schools might be able to attract better players if they were allowed to pay them. This could potentially increase parity, something that everyone agrees is good.
College football is an immensely profitable enterprise. We’d all be better off if we let players in on the action.
Thanks to Troy for causing these thoughts to form in my brain
It’s common these days to see people complaining of others “abusing” the U.S. healthcare system, particularly Medicaid. One recent example I saw on Facebook was a letter from an alleged MD talking about how he treated a person with many tattoos, expensive shoes, a gold tooth (insert other racial signifiers here, note that entitlement abusers never indulge in wearing boat shoes or Egyptian cotton polos) and was surprised to find that the patient was using Medicaid. The author then lamented the abuse of the Medicaid system and then claimed that our country’s healthcare woes can be fixed by instituting a culture of personal financial responsibility.
There are a lot of problems with this logic but one of them is a common mental mistake people make when they think about health insurance. What’s different about health insurance, as opposed to some other commodity, is that you cannot save up for it. It’s something you can either afford in your yearly budget, or something that you cannot. What this means is that if you cannot afford health insurance this year, regardless of how austere your lifestyle is, you won’t be able to afford health insurance next year. If your yearly savings are somewhere between zero and the yearly cost of health insurance each year, you might as well spend that money on things like shoes or tattoos or cell phones, because no matter how much you save, you’ll still be on Medicaid next year.
Given that health insurance costs thousands of dollars a year, even for catastrophic plans, that’s a lot of tattoos and Nikes.