HART: The Supreme Court Recognizes Juneteenth For NCAA Players

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Ron Hart Contributor
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We have just ended Juneteenth and nearing the end of Pride Month. To be fair, I really did not fully understand Pride Month. Now I am trying to sell 12 lions on eBay.

The good news is that the Supreme Court just partially gave the NCAA slaves their own Juneteenth with a ruling that college athletes can make money off their own likenesses (aka “brand”). Republican President Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves from Democrat owners (giving us another federal holiday, Juneteenth), put it more colorfully: “I always thought the man that made the corn should eat the corn.”

The Supreme Court upheld a district court judge’s decision that the NCAA was violating antitrust laws by placing limits on the education-related benefits that schools can provide to athletes. It allows schools to provide their athletes with unlimited compensation if that compensation is tied to education. The Supreme Court cannot come to a 9-0 decision on whether to buy an ice cream cake for Clarence Thomas’ birthday, but they did agree on this case.

In short, it’s a big step toward recognizing the obvious: People have the right to be paid for their labor.

“The NCAA is not above the law,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “The NCAA couches its arguments for not paying student athletes in innocuous labels. But the labels cannot disguise the reality: The NCAA’s business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America.”

There is a wide range of Division I NCAA players, from the running back at Alabama to the punter for Davidson. In the NCAA Baseball Tournament, NC State beat Vanderbilt. NC State players celebrated with a keg party, while Vanderbilt players went to their rooms and conjugated Latin verbs. Clearly, not all “student athletes” are in college for the education. The free market recognizes that; so should the NCAA.

College educations are now so compromised by “woke” and PC teachings that most kids learn little anyway. The most valuable thing I learned in college came from the SAE house: You can throw up long after you think you are finished.

Let’s not pretend that college athletes with average SAT scores of 800 who get into 1300-average SAT colleges are scholars chasing academics and their dreams to explore French literature. They are revenue producers for the school.  They should get a cut.

Hiding behind the opaque rules of a corrupt, hypocritical and uneven NCAA is not a good lesson. Most of the athletes are poor. They need money. “Hundred-dollar handshakes” from the local Chevy dealer will not address this problem, and they send the wrong message.

The NCAA got mad at the University of North Carolina for decades of systematically creating fraudulent and non-existent “classes” for its athletes, so the organization decided to punish the University of Memphis. In May 2019 the NCAA cleared #1 basketball recruit James Wiseman to play for Memphis, and then waited until the season started to say, “Oh wait, maybe not.” This tells you all you need to know about this laughable “organization.” It takes billions of dollars from college sports for itself, with no accountability.

Birthed in political patronage in 1910 when President Teddy Roosevelt’s son got banged up in a Harvard football game, the NCAA has evolved into a feckless quasi-United Nations and is more like the corrupt soccer cabal FIFA. FIFA was so devious and knew how to get around the murky rules it created that when the FBI busted into its board meeting to arrest a few of the members, they instinctively fell to the ground and faked injuries.

Cloaked in pious, self-congratulatory rhetoric, the NCAA needs to be sent to the locker room. The star of college football is the SEC; this conference needs to leave the NCAA because it has the gravitas to do so. The NCAA is a monopoly, like the NFL. The NFL pays its commissioner $44 million — to run a monopoly. Really?

The suit by Memphis recruit Wiseman and the NCAA v. Alston Supreme Court decision are cracks in the NCAA’s facade.

Colleges that profit from monopolistic bureaucracies like themselves and the NCAA take the labor of a few to help build their costly fiefdoms. Liberal colleges fear that, if athletes are allowed to learn to make money for themselves in the free market, they might graduate Summa Cum Republican.

Donald Trump, who is a capitalist and a college sports fan, has chimed in.  But I am not sure whom New Yorker Trump pulls for; I presume the Syracuse Orangemen.

Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author, and TV/radio commentator; you can reach him at Ron@RonaldHart.com or Twitter @RonaldHart.