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Can We Finally Admit That There is Nothing Amateur About College Sports?

Written by Kassandra Ramsey

Photo Credit Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

· PayforPlay,College basketball,College Football,NCAA,Sports Law

It is time to stop pretending that college sports are amateur! Recent decisions regarding the 2020-2021 college football season amid the Coronavirus pandemic has made this fact painfully obvious. For the past month, athletic conferences and colleges have grappled with the decision of whether to cancel fall sports due to Coronavirus concerns. The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences canceled fall sports. However, the Atlantic Coast Conference, (ACC), Southeastern Conference (SEC), and the Big 12 Conference plan to move forward with the upcoming college football season.

At the backdrop of the all of these decisions is the billions of dollars at stake if college football is not played. The anticipated financial impact of the cancelation of college football has made it difficult for conferences and colleges to cancel fall sports, namely football. For example, Northwestern University is set to lose billions of dollars. The financial impact does not stop with the universities. Local businesses stand to take a substantial loss as well.

In fact, several businesses in cities where Big Ten schools reside have already acknowledged that their businesses will suffer greatly with college football being canceled. Specifically, hotels, bars, and restaurants that rely on the influx people into their locales for game day will lose major revenue due to the cancelation of college football. It is for precisely this reason that schools like the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) is determined to save their college football season in spite of the Coronavirus outbreak that plagued their campus last week.

UNC Plans to Move Forward with Football Despite a Coronavirus Outbreak on Their Campus

UNC attempted to bring their students back for in-person classes. Soon after, 177 of their students tested positive for the Coronavirus. UNC was forced to transition to online classes. Although UNC transitioned to online classes, the university remains steadfast in its attempt to have a successful college football season. UNC temporarily suspended college sports but then released a plan to resume some sports.

UNC plans to resume men's and women's basketball, cross country, field hockey, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's volleyball, and football. All other athletic activities will remain suspended for the time being. UNC is sending all other students home and having some athletes remain on campus. All of the major revenue producing sports are to moving forward with preparing for their season while the greater student body is not required to be on campus. How is this possible when college athletes are not supposed to be treated differently than other students? The NCAA proclaims that amateurism is essential to ensuring that college athletes are integrated into the greater student body. However, it appears that amateurism is missing its mark here. If this does not make it abundantly clear that college sports are not amateur, what will?

It is Time to Acknowledge that College Sports are not Amateur

The fact that three of the Power 5 conferences are moving forward with fall sports, namely football completely voids the argument that college sports are amateur. College sports are not amateur and are in fact big business. Let's be honest, the only time "amateurism" is mentioned is when the NCAA and others want to make the argument that college athletes should not be paid. When it comes to decisions about college sports amidst the Coronavirus and college athletes' health and safety, the word "amateur" is nowhere to be found. If college athletes were truly only playing for the love of the game, it would seem easy to cancel the season in the midst of a novel disease that has claimed the lives of many worldwide. Furthermore, several college athletes have developed Mycocarditis - a heart condition thought to be linked to the Coronavirus.

The NCAA, conferences, and universities can no longer hide behind the charade of amateurism. The NCAA, the conferences, and the universities handling of the resumption of college athletics amidst the Coronavirus pandemic has exposed once and for all that college athletics is NOT amateur. Furthermore, it has proved that amateurism is merely a justification college athletic administrators assert to justify systematically refusing to give college athletes a bigger piece of the revenue that their strenuously labor generates. It is time to admit that amateurism is a farce and create a more equitable college athletics system.

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