Amidst All Its Troubles, The NCAA Cannot Answer A Simple Question:  Why?

Ronald Martinez

As questions swirl about Johnny Manziel's eligiblity, it's the NCAA that needs to be answering the questions.

Why?

Every parent hears this question incessantly throughout any given day. The parent may be tired. They may want the child to simply comply with the demand given. But the Why is out there. And the Why is critically important to being a good parent--its how we shape the values and habits of our children.

Eat your green beans before you leave the table, Luke.

Why?

Because they have vitamins that your body needs to stay healthy.

Floss your teeth before you brush, Michael.

Why?

So that you don't get cavities.

Kids usually begrudgingly accept the why. But that comes with a caveat. They can smell the BS why from a mile away.

Can Luke and I play Candy Land daddy?

No.

Why?

Because you should find something else to do.

The kid is not dumb. They know its because you're too damn lazy to get up off the recliner and get the game out of the closet.

I take this lesson to heart. I don't want my tiredness or laziness or some other agenda conflicting the message that I'm really trying to send my kids. Basically, I live up to my end of the bargain--I make sure that I have a good answer to the why.

Can the NCAA say the same?

Because we keep hearing from the NCAA about amateurism. About how important it is that Johnny Manziel not accept money for autographs, or that De'Anthony Thomas get no money from jersey sales, or that players should not benefit from their likeness in any way.

Why, NCAA, why?

Because of amateurism? In a sport where new TV contracts are measured in the billions of dollars? Where assistant coaches are pulling in seven figures? Where the NCAA itself is marketing its players for cash? What point, exactly, does amateurism serve anyway?

Is it for competitive balance?

Because USC and Texas have always had locational advantages over most schools. Some, like Oregon, have found ways to overcome those. And the power conference schools have always had a major advantage over non-power conference schools. Sure, Phil Knight could decide to give De'Anthony Thomas a nine-figure Nike contract that wouldn't be matched for a player at Akron, and commercial appearances in Austin are bound to be worth a lot more than they are in Ames, but there is one balancing factor: a school can only play one quarterback, a few running backs, etc. All of the players can't simply stockpile at one school if they actually want to play.

I'm not necessairly in favor of having schools pay players--I'd want to know that in a world where athletic department aren't raking in tons of profits that the taxpayers aren't going to be stuck with the bill. And I'm not absolving Manziel of any wrongdoing--if the allegations against him are true, he knowingly broke the rules, and let down his teammates in the process. But that doesn't mean it's a smart rule, or one that has any business being on the books. A writer or dancer or musician who is good at their craft can make money off their likeness and we praise them for it. For an athlete, it's a no-no.

Everyone is allowed to make money off of the student athlete, except for the student athlete.

Why?

What message is the NCAA trying to send to student athletes? Or are they just trying to squeeze an extra dime?

Just like the child with the parent, we can all see through the NCAA's BS.

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