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AUBREY BRUCE

Throughout the years it’s been a big deal for a college football player to come out, make an NFL squad and become a starter. The reason that athletes supposedly receive scholarships in the first place is for that individual to receive formal athletic and academic training; all while not being paid and even being prohibited from receiving compensation from any other source.

There remains little doubt that NCAA football serves the same function for the NFL that the minor leagues do for Major League Baseball, except that, from the day that they are signed, baseball players are considered pros and are paid as such, even if they never make it to the “big leagues.” When NCAA football players are drafted, they have to sit and wait around for the combines, pro days, OTAs, mini-camps and all other sorts of activities before they even get to training camp. Are football players hailing from NCAA football programs sometimes forced to sing, “Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush” as opposed to traditional alma maters and fight songs? Would all of you recent graduates of “Google U,” google where “Here we go ‘round the mulberry bush” comes from? That will at least partially explain the indentured servitude culture of NCAA football.

According to usatoday.com, “Of the 253 players drafted in 2016, 33 will start in Week 1.” If the college coaching profession is competent, then players exiting the college ranks should be ready to perform on the professional level because they have had four years to prepare their athletes.

One of the reasons that NCAA players are not as prepared to evolve to the pro ranks is that there is an insidious and devious system to devalue and denigrate the backgrounds of many college football players so that a few of these so-called, “institutions” of higher learning can glean as many economic advantages from the performance of these athletes as long as they perform under the banner of these schools. There are all sorts of penalties in place to stunt the growth of many of these young men. If you transfer from a school, you have to sit out a year, as well as lots of other nonsense. Many times, these devaluation systems are thinly disguised as disciplinary methods. Once draft day rolls around, many of these “considerations” dilute the “money pool” of some of the athletes, many that are from the inner-cities of America.

Let’s rewind “le clock” back to MLB. I am going to list a few Pirates players that have “graduated” from the Pirates AAA “undergraduate school,” the Indianapolis Indians. First baseman Josh Bell was signed in 2011. He made his MLB debut on July 8, 2016. Outfielder Andrew McCutchen was drafted in the first round in 2005. He made his walk down the graduation aisle of Indianapolis in 2009. My point is, while most of the Pirates players were being coached, groomed and prepared for their promotion to Major League Baseball clubs, they were being paid as well.

Many of these NCAA football participants that I mentioned at the beginning of this article may have been “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” when they signed their letters of intent, making them the “beneficiaries” of these “pseudo-scholarships” when they left high school to “attend” college. However, after they are drained by these schools of almost anything of intrinsic moral value, many of these young athletes are confused economically, emotionally and intellectually. Their state of being at that point, boys and girls, is no accident.

Why aren’t they being paid?

I’ve written about this subject many times and those of you that continue to give this column your attention have read my past vow to showcase this issue at least once every 365 days until many college athletes that are part of major athletic programs are compensated. In the event that the issue of compensation lingers and remains unresolved, the least that should be done for these “young economic assets” is catastrophic insurance policies of $1 million or more taken out on any player starting two or more years for their school with the affected player the beneficiary. Thus, if that player is injured and unable to resume his or her athletic career or finish their undergraduate studies, he or she won’t be stuck behind a counter at a fast food joint with a smile on their face, asking, “May I help you?”

(Aubrey Bruce can be reached at: abruce@newpittsburghcourier.com or 412-583-6741.)

 

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