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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Why letting players sell their own memorabilia is a bad idea

Many have tried to excuse the transgressions of Terrelle Pryor and the Tat 5 - namely trading or selling their own items - as not only minor, but something that should be allowed for college athletes.  The thinking behind that goes, If it's theirs, why shouldn't they be able to trade or sell it like anybody else?

Well, at first blush, I admit that sounds reasonable.  If I'm a straight-A junior PoliSci major and somebody wants to give me a free Rousseau tattoo in exchange for my copy of Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan that I autographed, it's all fine and dandy. 

So why shouldn't student-athletes be allowed to barter, trade, or sell their things in the same way that student-students are allowed to?  Because there's no way to stop such an allowance to quickly devolve from students making a couple extra bucks into players getting paid big bucks by boosters.

Once you open that Pandora's Box, it won't take long for the "value" of the items sold or traded by star players at major programs to sky rocket.  Suddenly, the real estate mogul-slash-"autograph collector" - who just happens to be a fan of INSERT SCHOOL NAME HERE - is paying thousands of dollars for the star QB's autographed jersey.  And what do you know, the bowl-game cleats of the the All-American RB have the exact same trade value as a used Lexus.  Who'd'a thunk it.

Yes, the amount a player could get from selling or trading stuff could simply be capped at "X" each season/year/career.  I'm sure that would work awesome.  Because the schools and NCAA are doing such a bang up job of keeping money and extra benefits out when it's not legal.  So I bet if it were legal, it would totally reduce the problem.

If schools want to talk small (keyword: small) stipend - an equal amount for each player that amounts to the spending money those caught cheating always claim they're doing it for - that's a discussion to be had at some point.  But paying players - and that's what this would quickly lead to under the guise of "selling what's mine" - is not the answer.

"Yes, I do believe this is a fair price for your jock strap, Mr. Heisman Trophy Candidate."


Shorty the Beachcomber said...

I agree whole-heartedly. With all the booster related problems in the NCAA, it is extremely niave to think that allowing players to sell what is theirs will only result in them being compensated at something resembling a fair market purchase from a memorabilia store. Within two weeks of allowing such a rule the entire sport would instantly become professional athletics. And don't think for a second that any recruit would commit to any school again without a 'salary.' The biggest schools with the biggest money would instantly turn the sport into something even further resembling the MLB with your typical SOX and Yanks, and the ever-present minor league teams in the majors, the Royals, with no hope of competing without an enormous cash flow. The Stanfords of the world would never have a shot again without a Harbaugh AND a huge booster. No longer would a good coach and a quality staff with hard working players be enough. The sport would be bought.

To exploit the rule, all a recruit would have to do is to post a used sweaty game sock on ebay and sell to the highest bidder, under the protection of proposed niave rule change, and all of the sudden his mind would conveniently be made up about where he would attend school in the fall. 120,000 dollars from a curious fan who happens to be an Oklahoma booster.

The reason recruits cannot have any benefits is because boosters have ruined any opportunities for players by trying to wrest services with absurd amounts from the jaws of decency and reasonability (a free meal from a caring individual, friendly assistance for a flat tire, a drink on the house). Boosters have forced the rules that allow NCAA athletes no perks (aside from that enormous free education, even if some athletes don't care about school). The boosters are the children who can't play fair, thus necessitating these seeming harsh rules.

Ramona said...

Damn good post and damn good comment that should answer the question currently being asked by OSU fans; namely, "Why can't they sell what is theirs??"

John said...

You mention paying them a small stipend. I guess the $50,000 - $100,000 education they get isn't worth jack? that pays well beyond football. its their job to take advantage of it instead of worrying about selling their crap.

Yost said...

I actually agree with you, John. But I guess I'm open to the agrument by those who come from families w/out means that, Yes, the education is paid for, but one still needs spending money for the miscellaneous items needed at college.