Amateur pay is absurd

Paying college athletes?

They’re already being paid.

While other college students and/or their parents are going into debt in order to receive a diploma, athletes get a coveted full ride for representing their school on the gridiron, basketball court or some other field of dreams.

Our sports-crazed society places more value on a Heisman Trophy candidate than a Rhodes Scholar.

That’s misguided, but it’s reality.

We put athletes on a pedestal. If they’re good enough, we put their likeness on a statue. They turn professional and make more money in one season than most of us will earn in our lifetimes. Some are paid so well they are paid more for participating in a single game than the average worker earns during his career.

Recently, a judge ruled that athletes at Northwestern University can form a union. Really? Athletes who already get their tuition, books, housing and meals paid need a union?

This could be a game-changer. It could, and I don’t believe I’m being overly dramatic, change forever the face of college sports as we know it.

Whatever happened to amateurs? To people who played for the love of the game? Remember the American amateur hockey players who pulled off the Miracle On Ice? You better remember them, for they may be among the last amateurs to perform on a major stage. Even the Olympics, the last bastion of amateur sports, allows professionals to participate.

Why has all this happened? Because, we the people have allowed it to occur. We want to be able to turn on our TV -or our computer -and watch the game of our choice. We support 24-hour sports talk radio and TV which fills our heads with mindless pablum but satisfies our appetite for every morsel of drivel.

Sports is a reflection of society. A society that can’t get enough sports. We’ve turned over the scheduling of our sports to the TV networks. If they say you will play on Tuesday night, we’ll play on Tuesday night even though those who bought tickets and made hotel reservations were under the impression this was a Saturday game.

As they say on TV, it’s all about the Benjamins. It’s a money game. A money grab. Moneyball, the title of a book that prominently featured hometown hero Nick Swisher, is now an appropriate title for every game that is played and every athlete that is signed.

I remember when the New York Yankees announced their most beloved player, Mickey Mantle, was going to be paid $100,000 a season. As much as Yankees fans loved The Mick, that was unacceptable in their eyes. No athlete was worth that much. Today, we have athletes that get that much for playing a single game.

The idea of paying unionized college athletes seems preposterous and ridiculous. But if it helps feed the money machine we have allowed sports to become, it soon will be a reality.

Contact Dave Poe at dpoe@newsandsentinel.com