The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Revealing The Regressive Business Model Of College Sports

from Brookings

This year’s college football season is shaping up to be vastly different than any other in history. While games are being played, crowds are exceptionally limited or nonexistent. Furthermore, there are simply fewer games—and there is no guarantee of a complete season for any school. The combination of these factors is costing universities tens of millions of dollars and upending the underlying business model of college sports. Universities across the country have already responded by ending many low-revenue sports. This has led to widespread lamentations about the decreased opportunities for intercollegiate athletes who play sports that cannot support themselves financially.

However, if we are serious about caring for intercollegiate athletes, we should begin by reconsidering the corrupt bargain at the heart of modern college sports—one that has been magnified by the pandemic. In a new National Bureau of Economic Research paper that we co-authored with Jordan Keener and Nicole Ozminkowski, we empirically investigate the economic business model of college sports. We find that the prevailing model rests on taking the money generated by athletes who are more likely to be Black and come from low-income neighborhoods and transferring it to sports played by athletes who are more likely to be white and from higher-income neighborhoods. The money is also transferred to coaches and used for the construction of lavish (and perhaps overly lavish) athletic facilities. With COVID-19 shutting off the money spigot, schools are being forced to publicly acknowledge that their athletic departments depend on regressively transferring money from athletes who grew up poor to those who grew up in richer households and to wealthy coaches.

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52 Comments

  1. I find this article very interesting in many different ways. First, I find the article interesting, because it helps to promote the value of knowledge about ethics involved in college sports. Second, I find this article interesting, because I enjoy watching college sports. Third, I find this article interesting because it makes me aware of what is happening with college sports in universities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, I find this article interesting, because it helps me to understand the business transactions involving college athletics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, this article gave me more insight about business transactions that involves college athletics in universities during the COVID-19 pandemic and I find it very interesting.

  2. Student athletes have been given cuts due to the pandemic and have faced hard times with financial cuts. Being a student athlete myself I see changes being made in order to play as an athlete. Programs had to be cut because they weren’t able to be funded. This is hard for student athletes because the way their tuition is paid and the way they receive education is by playing as a student athlete in Most of these colleges. Having these financial cuts be made makes it much harder for a student to stay in college motivated and physically mentally and emotionally stable to keep going. Coaches are paid an extraordinarily high amount of money yearly even during the pandemic but student athletes funding for their college education is being cut. If sponsors and college boards were to balance the money between coach students and sponsors everyone could be equally paid and continue to live peacefully and have all their debts paid especially student athletes who don’t have much working experience being that they are in college and playing a sport to pay for their education.

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