Posts about college athletics appear separately on this site in the Ongoing Debate section under NCAA Sports.



  • James Bennet, Editor-in-Chief of The Atlantic on MSNBC Morning Joe




  • Deadspin: “The aftershocks from “The Shame of College Sports,” Taylor Branch’s devastating cover story in The Atlantic, continue to ripple. Two other pieces are out today advancing the notion that college athletes deserve financial compensation.”
  • Deadspin: “Aside from reminding Americans for the next 15 minutes that history has actual value, Taylor Branch’s devastating article, “The Shame of College Sports,” finally fully legitimized the discussion of paying college athletes for their performance. It certainly didn’t approve the notion by fiat, but simply allowing it to enter the conversation as an equally reasonable proposition was triumph enough.”
  • “For more on the “student-athlete” rhetorical device, set aside some time for Taylor Branch’s landmark piece on the NCAA.”
  • Orlando Sentinel: “This behemoth will take a long, long time to read. But it is absolutely worth it as Pulitzer Prize-winner Taylor Branch takes a look at the NCAA and the myth of amateurism.”
  • “With Taylor Branch serving the NCAA the largest body blow to date in October’s The Atlantic Monthly, it is clear there is no other option: the NCAA not only has to die, it is inevitable that is will die.”

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The Shame of College SportsThe Shame of College Sports was released yesterday on the Atlantic web site and has received quite a bit of media attention.

Frank Deford wrote a response to the article and spoke about it on NPR. His endorsement was the highlight for me in an avalanche of press reactions yesterday.  They promise to spark fresh national debate on the place of sports in higher education.

Following is a list of stories and reviews about the article.


MSNBC’s Daily Rundown

CNN’s Inside the Newsroom

NPR’s All Things Considered

NPR’s Frank Deford

Columbia Journalism Review
“Taylor Branch’s cover story in the new Atlantic is a devastating indictment of the NCAA, a must-read for anyone interested in college athletics and the business of sports. It’s a superb synthesis of the history of the NCAA, the hypocrisy of keeping athletes from getting paid while the commercialization of college sports (football and basketball, that is) runs amok, and why a reckoning may be in store.”
“If you read one piece of sports journalism this week, it should be The Atlantic magazine’s huge cover story by Taylor Branch, a Pulitzer-Prize-winning civil rights historian . Branch isn’t doing much new by calling out the NCAA as a morally defective institution-a “classic cartel…[that] presides over a vast, teetering glory” and exudes “an unmistakable whiff of the plantation.” He’s just doing it much, much better than most. In fine-bladed fashion, Branch lays out a case for overhauling an organization that he describes as parasitic, corrupt, and, yes, antithetical to liberty. Branch wrote a trilogy of Martin Luther King, Jr. books. He’s one of the few people in the country who can liken the NCAA and its proxies to slavers and be taken seriously. And, Lord, how it must suck to be called a racist by a man who’s penned 2,912 pages on civil rights.” (Article 2):
“There is too much amazing material in Taylor Branch’s Atlantic piece about the NCAA for us to handle it all at once , so we’re just going to keep pulling shiny gems from the treasure trove whenever a new one catches our eye.”
“…Historian Taylor Branch’s latest work at the Atlantic-“The Shame Of College Sports”-is the latest addition to the canon, and it’s as comprehensive as any work so far. It could be its own book, but for now you’ll have to settle for 15,000 words online, and a definitive work of journalism to point to the next time someone asks why certain college athletes should be getting paid. Check it out, and keep it bookmarked. One day a few years from now, it might be fun to go back and remember when the NCAA was run by “whoremasters.”
“Through thorough argument and excellent historical context, Branch, sledgehammers every facet of what he believes to be college football’s shamelessly corrupt infrastructure and presents the case for college athletes to be paid.”

The Post Standard (Syracuse)
“Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Parting the Waters, America in the King Years has written a fascinating piece for The Atlantic that castigates the NCAA and its member institutions for profiting from the performances of their “student-athletes.” The long story, entitled “The Shame of College Sports” is worth the read.”

The Week (Deford’s commentary):

Boston Globe

LA Observed

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

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The Shame of College SportsFrank Deford released an article this morning called, The NCAA and The So-Called ‘Student-Athlete’. Additionally, a 3-minute piece on NPR by Mr. Deford is available below. Click the play button below to begin listening.

The NCAA and The So-Called Student-Athlete

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Dear friends and readers:

I have written for The Atlantic magazine a short history of college sports in the United States. It will be released on the web next Tuesday, September 13. For more, see below.

Meanwhile, please excuse my low profile over the past year. I have been burrowed away on several new initiatives. For the long term, I have been researching two projected books based in the Constitutional era of U.S. history, which is a significant and enthralling jump back in time for me.

I have also joined novel experiments to reform the teaching of American history in our schools.  Improvement is sorely needed.  Students score abysmally low on history and basic civics, in part because schools have been evaluated on test scores limited to math and reading.  With textbooks dying out, and inadequate, our goal is to provide teachers with story-based resource material in engaging, digestible units at low cost, or for free.  My part so far has been to extract from my civil rights trilogy the most essential narrative lessons for both printed edition and access via the internet.  I began the process a reluctant, old-fashioned author but have become an eager convert.  The upcoming efforts will be announced in the next few months and launched next year.

The Atlantic assignment took me, a casual sports fan, into unfamiliar worlds of colliding passion. Many people think big-money sports have corrupted higher education, while others think greedy athletes have corrupted college sports. Instead, I found thoughtless exploitation beneath the NCAA’s Oz-like amateur ideal. It made me an abolitionist, and I hope at least to broaden the scope of debate. I welcome your reaction. Advance tidbits of my argument will be posted daily until Tuesday.

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