Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford

Deford: NCAA Says Amateurism Is Alive And Well, But The Jig Is Up

Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson at practice for the 2014 NCAA men's college basketball tournament. Commentator Frank Deford says that, despite NCAA claims to the contrary, most college players are not typical students — "their job is to play a sport." i i

Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson at practice for the 2014 NCAA men's college basketball tournament. Commentator Frank Deford says that, despite NCAA claims to the contrary, most college players are not typical students — "their job is to play a sport." Jae C. Hong/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jae C. Hong/AP
Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson at practice for the 2014 NCAA men's college basketball tournament. Commentator Frank Deford says that, despite NCAA claims to the contrary, most college players are not typical students — "their job is to play a sport."

Wisconsin's Traevon Jackson at practice for the 2014 NCAA men's college basketball tournament. Commentator Frank Deford says that, despite NCAA claims to the contrary, most college players are not typical students — "their job is to play a sport."

Jae C. Hong/AP

Amateurism is dead, revealed so in the trial against the NCAA now in progress in Oakland, Calif., U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken presiding. Before her skeptical eyes, amateurism has been laid out naked on a courtroom slab for a jury of all fans to see that it has no beating heart.

Amateurism, Judge Wilken has been told in the case, commonly known as the O'Bannon trial, nobly protects college athletes from being exploited by evil outsiders — so the NCAA knighthood was created in order that colleges could tie up athletes all by themselves.

To this legal amateur, amateurism in college sport is in violation of the most basic antitrust laws. The claim of the NCAA is that if its athletes were paid, they would no longer be typical students.

Of course, they aren't already, and every coach and athletic director knows that. Many players in revenue sports are not really students at all. Their job is to play a sport. Only, unlike every other employee in this country, they can't get paid.

Why? Well, because they are amateurs — so everybody who makes money off them must help the NCAA protect the impoverished amateurs from being exploited.

But, as we've seen in Oakland, the jig is up.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on the issue.

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Sweetness And LightSweetness And Light The Score On Sports With Frank Deford