Last week was payday for the Big Ten. Its institutions were paid 24.6 million dollars a piece. "Wow" was my initial reaction. Five days later, my reaction has changed in nothing but tone.
Of course the money is being split evenly among the B1G's billion dollar members, even though the idea Northwestern turned the tills as equally as Ohio State did during the 2011 campaign is laughable. Most people's thinking doesn't run this deep however. They read news like this and -- much like me -- say "Wow" and then they move on about their day. Again, I'm not different. This is how I can write damning generalities on the internet about trivial things like college football, all while ignoring the thousands of people who will sleep on the streets within my city tonight. Or the fact all my clothes were made by underpaid workers in foreign countries. Or whatever.
But, lately, I've been reading about how younger folks are having a harder time generating wealth than older folks. In this day and age, people throw around billions of dollars in text like it's cracked peanut shells in a dive-bar. See? I did it right there. "Billions of dollars", people read that and go about their day without really thinking about how much "billions of dollars" really is. These words have become such a pittance, people no longer question transactions of this magnitude. It's almost as if having a billion dollars has become underrated.
I watched more Big Ten football in 2011 than I'd like to admit. Minnesota getting $24.6 million dollars in return for their season should bring RICO charges down on somebody. In our "free-thinking" utopia, however, it amounts to a little more than blog fodder.
That's great news for the people cashing the checks. (Read: old, predominately white people.) Because otherwise, people might start to look at the compensation people are receiving for merely broadcasting these games and compare it to the compensation for those actually creating the wealth. (Read: young, predominately African-Americans.)
When viewed through the massive kaleidoscope which is this nation's age/wealth gap, I fail to see how players aren't at least entitled to some of this money. For example, there are 85 scholarships per team. Why can't they each be cut at least $100,000 of this money? Why don't the individual players, collectively, have as much bargaining power as Northwestern and their 8,000 fans apparently do?
I shouldn't be shocked. My generation is engrossed by Kim Kardashian and Fifty Shades of Grey. It's just a shame we can't depend on the millionaire grown-ass men in the room to do the right thing. Otherwise, this charade could be brought to an end rather quickly.
In the age of Twitter, athletes have much larger networks than they did before the internet went boom. Imagine if somebody like Braxton Miller -- whom Urban Meyer has demanded more leadership from -- came out and openly questioned the $24.6 million transaction which went down over his head.
If each scholarship player were paid $100,000 a year -- or perhaps a percentage of the gross broadcasting windfall -- could players not afford tuition along with a comfortable living style? Why should they have to live their lives with some arbitrary hammer lurking over their heads? It's not ESPN suits logging the hours in the weight room. It's not Jim Delaney playing through injuries. Like my generation's Shakespeare, Drake, said, "[Mike Slive] wasn't shooting with me in the gym."
Imagine if Braxton Miller and other athletes said they weren't going to play until they were given their fair share of the broadcasting money. These institutions claim to be educating these kids, but given that no athlete has come out in question of this yet leads me to believe otherwise.
Bill Russell and Jerry West once organized a boycott before an NBA All-Star game. Guess what? The owners and the league folded to their demands like a bunch of cards. Actually, I'm not even sure that cliche fits because because Russell, West and the players held all of those.
It's the same with college football. The players are the ones who hold the cards. Even the Big Ten's biggest orgy, the Michigan-Ohio State game, is largely dependent on the talent that plays in it. While it was fun kicking the donkey shit out of Rich Rodriguez, it got old after awhile.
Fans say "It's not about the name on the back of the jersey, but the name on the front." These people are also usually the ones to call for the likes of Joe Bauserman's head after he sails his 3rd pass into the stands. They're also not the ones creating the wealth.
The NCAA's "student-athletes" are the ones creating the wealth. There are literally billions of dollars being exchanged over these kids hands, and they're not entitled to any of it? Not a single student-athlete has openly spoken out about this, because where is their representation?
In the olden days, wars used to be fought over things like this. The players have no army -- only their collective worth. They're up against billion dollar systems intent on keeping them splintered and the profits flowing.
It's obvious who's winning the fight.