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The NCAA Cartel

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It’s difficult to summarize Taylor Branch’s Atlantic story on the NCAA, or to find any specific parts to excerpt; basically, just read the whole thing.

Branch ends on a relatively optimistic note, suggesting that the NCAA is facing some serious legal problems, and that the uneasy peace between the NCAA and the big schools (a peace which is essentially built on the exploitation of male athletes in football and basketball) is unstable and may soon collapse.

My only commentary is that I share none of Branch’s moral qualms about paying players.  The most compelling objections (and I don’t find them all that compelling, to be sure) involve distributional issues within and across intercollegiate sports.  The persuasive power of the ethic of amateurism is, for me, effectively nil.  For the NCAA and the big universities, on the other hand, the ethic of amateurism is worth quite a lot of money.

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