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King in The Wilderness


The Atlantic struck a nerve for controversy and conversation by publishing my investigative take on “The Shame of College Sports” some seven years ago. Since then, I have been hidden away most of the time writing a book about the pervasive
issue of race throughout American history.

When editors at TIME Magazine asked me last week to write an update on the state of NCAA college sports, I first told them I couldn’t take on such a major assignment. I knew, however, that time has proven me wrong to have predicted an
“imminent downfall” for the NCAA regime. The entrenched interests governing college sports have been much stronger than the logical reform for rank injustice that seemed so clear to me.

So TIME is publishing my concise update meant for fans and non-fans alike. Here’s how it begins, online today and on newsstands this Friday:

“The annual March Madness heist is under way. Let’s take a peek behind the curtain: while the cameras show supremely gifted college athletes delivering drama and thrills on the court, the NCAA has licensed every television broadcast to hoard a bonanza for people who never touch the ball.

Well-meaning voices call for the NCAA to pay players, but this demand is misguided. No college should be required to pay athletes, and no pay structure needs to be planned. The central question is whether college athletes should have the bargaining rights that other Americans take for granted. On this point, the NCAA is deaf to persuasion. It will hang on to its windfall tenaciously.

The NCAA system is not a creation of law. It’s a private compact of colleges and their athletic conferences, designed to impose a compensation ceiling on athletes by fiat and to demonize anyone who pays or receives a nickel above essentially the cost of college attendance.

Basic reform is simple…”

Read on at TIME.com