by Max Brantley
Here's your good free reading for the day. Civil rights historian (and Bill Clinton friend and diarist) Taylor Branch has written an important article for The Atlantic on college sports. The lead-in:
A litany of scandals in recent years have made the corruption of college sports constant front-page news. We profess outrage each time we learn that yet another student-athlete has been taking money under the table. But the real scandal is the very structure of college sports, wherein student-athletes generate billions of dollars for universities and private companies while earning nothing for themselves. Here, a leading civil-rights historian makes the case for paying college athletes—and reveals how a spate of lawsuits working their way through the courts could destroy the NCAA.
Commercial interests buy schools and buy coaches. When they win, fans pay anything to see their favorite gladiators. And the gladiators? Some get an education. Some get injured for life. They don't get paid. Or, if they do and get caught ....