In the 19th century, the poor and working class did not have the necessary free time to compete in athletics. They had to work. Sports were dominated by the elite, the wealthy. In order to maintain their competitive advantage, the privileged championed the idea that amateurism protected the purity of competition.
Wealthy, privileged Ivy League schools adopted this mindset at the formation of the NCAA.
Amateurism has never truly been about protecting the games from money’s corrosive impact. It has been about controlling the outcome, determining the winners and losers, rigging the games to favor the rich and powerful. The influence of money made the outcome and the access to college campuses more difficult to control.
Power, privilege and exclusion are at the foundation of the NCAA and its outdated rule book. Intelligent, fair-minded sports fans should be celebrating its corruption-fueled collapse, the way women toasted gaining suffrage, blacks cheered the end of Jim Crow and Reagan welcomed the fall of communism in the Soviet Union.
That’s what is so offensive about Roger Goodell’s sudden interest in protecting the sanctity of the NCAA’s amateurism scam. His decision to uphold the NCAA’s five-game suspension levied against marginal NFL prospect Terrelle Pryor reeks of stupidity, arrogance and immorality.
Goodell is on the wrong side of history.
He can’t hide behind the weak excuse that he is protecting the integrity of NFL draft eligibility rules. You don’t need to consult with the president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, to protect NFL rules. Two decades ago, Cris Carter was tossed out of Ohio State for accepting money from an agent, entered the supplemental draft and the integrity of NFL rules survived just fine.
No. This is commissioner Goodell moonlighting once again as a one-man morality police force — only there is nothing moral about his ruling.
He can see the collapse of his free minor-league system, and the suspension of Pryor is a last-ditch effort to prop up the football fraud that calls itself college football.
Where is DeMaurice Smith, the director of the NFLPA? Is he in hiding, hoping none of Goodell’s media puppets point out that Smith’s CBA agreement makes Gene Upshaw look like Winston Churchill?
Smith’s silence is stupefying.
Terrelle Pryor broke no laws. He didn’t fail a drug test. He wasn’t caught using steroids. He gained no competitive advantage. He used his fame to desecrate his body with tattoos and maybe gain access to a car or two.
He broke the rules of amateurism. Last I checked, amateurism is not one of the 10 Commandments. It’s some man-made bullcrap invented to make sure Biff didn’t have to get sweaty while getting his ass kicked by Leroy.
Amateurism sure wasn’t invented to keep the wealthy from enjoying parties on yachts, bottle service at nightclubs, sex with prostitutes and expensive jewelry. Amateurism was invented — and is maintained — to keep the poor from enjoying the things the rich take for granted.
You can argue that it is unlikely Pryor will ever quarterback an NFL team and the suspension is purely symbolic. You can equally argue that the suspension sets another dangerous precedent for Goodell’s seemingly limitless power.
Under the umbrella of his personally-created, moving-line, player-conduct code, Goodell reportedly played some role in steering Michael Vick to Philadelphia and away from Buffalo and Cincinnati. I don’t buy the post-GQ-article clarification from Vick that he made the decision to choose being a third-stringer in Philly over a chance to play immediately in Buffalo or Cincy without guidance from the commissioner.
Maybe Goodell’s advice to Vick was well-intentioned and singularly focused on putting Vick in the best position to succeed. Or maybe Goodell’s advice was business-savvy, intended to place Vick in a more preferable television market. Who knows?
What we do know is absolute power corrupts and Goodell’s power is unchallenged.
DeMaurice Smith doesn’t want to tangle with Goodell. Goodell has a cozy relationship with the millionaire celebrity sports writers/broadcasters who pretend to cover the NFL, and he’s in business with the executives who run the major media outlets that fawn over his league.
Goodell is privileged, pampered and powerful. No wonder he defends the NCAA and the elitist concept of amateurism.