Television's Impacet on College Football
Submitted By thebaconmustache
College Reading and Writing
16 February 2010
Television’s Influence on College Football Due to the growing and changing landscape of college sports there have been questions raised about the integrity of academics above athletics. This is a very large issue within college football programs. College football coaches and athletic directors are getting paid more then college presidents and chancellors (“Television’s Impact on College Sports”), football revenues for individual schools have peaked at over $87 million (Fish), and networks are requesting that big time college football games be played on Thursday nights for prime-time viewing. College professors and the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics are strongly opposed to the control that television networks have over college football. The belief that academic integrity is a higher priority is an argument that has been fighting a losing battle to network dollars. Big football market universities make a lot of money from major contracts with television networks. In a recent episode of ESPN’s Outside the Lines it stated that the Big Ten football conference makes $242 million average annual income from television revenue (“Television’s Impact on College Sports”). That’s not pocket change. A $242 million dollar payday to split between the eleven schools in the Big Ten for merely letting CBS, FOX, ESPN, etc., come in and record their schools football games? That can’t be right. Unfortunately, it’s not right, there is much more to it. Not only are the television networks recording games for profit but they are also making video games, interviewing players, pressuring student athletes to perform, analyzing every aspect of the student athlete’s life, and taking away time in the classroom not only to the student athletes but the students who go to the Thursday night games who don’t go to class on Friday’s, and the athletes who are put on showcase for the nation to watch perform will never see a dime of that revenue, nor will ever be allowed to accept a dime from a private donor or outside source.
“College football today is the second most popular sport after the NFL,” according to Larry Scott, Pac-Ten Commissioner (“Television’s Impact on College Sports”). The popularity of the sport has shot through the roof since games first began being broadcast on television.
“In the early 1980’s the NCAA still had exclusive control of all college football broadcasts. In a typical week there were only one or two games on national television. In 1984 the United States Supreme Court said individual schools and conferences were free to negotiate their own television contracts. That landmark decision combined with the rise of cable television fueled an explosion, which continues today. This college football season there were 30-35 games broadcast on national television networks (“Television’s Impact on College Sports”).”
This immense rise in popularity has led to the rise in television interest. Of course all the popularity isn’t a bad thing for the sport, it becomes harmful when it isn’t controlled or becomes controlled by outside entities such as ESPN. Because of the popularity of the sport, there was some conflict this past season. A very big game that determined who would meet Ohio State University in the Rose Bowl was going to be played between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. ESPN had come to the conclusion that this game would be better suited to be played on Thursday night instead of on Saturday when college football is traditionally played so it doesn’t interfere with school. ESPN has something else going on Saturday so instead of giving up broadcasting the University of Oregon and Oregon State University game, they told the schools to move the game to Thursday night. The schools complied and moved the game, which might not seem like a big deal, unfortunately there are many factors that play into this being a big deal. Not only are there students from the host school in attendance (the University of Oregon) but also students who traveled there from Oregon University. This means some students were skipping night classes to go to the game or watch it on television. Students, before, during, and/or after the game had been drinking and partying which means most of them didn’t make it to class the next day missing even more school. There are many rules in the NCAA. A lot of them have to do with money. “You are not eligible for participation in a sport if after full-time collegiate enrollment you have ever: (1) Taken pay, or the promise of pay, for competing in that sport (NCAA rulebook).” This means no student athlete can take any form of money or gifts from anyone while they are part of the NCAA. If a student is part of the team that is making the school excess of $87 million a year they can’t see any of that money? “You are not eligible if you receive financial aid other than the nonathletic financial aid that your school distributes. However, it is permissible to receive: (1) Money from anyone on whom you are naturally or legally dependent (NCAA rulebook).” According to the rulebook student athletes can’t even accept any form of financial aid if it isn’t deemed from non-athletic purposes, while the schools in the Big Ten can cash in on over $242 million dollars from displaying these athletes on national television. Not to mention the NCAA is making $500 million just for allowing ESPN to have to rights to the five BCS bowl games over four years (McDonell). This is all very backwards, what if a student gets injured playing football and he can no longer make the money he was going to make in the NFL? What about all the athletes that are playing and can’t afford school and have to take out major loans? What about the athletes who don’t plan on continuing their football careers after college but continue to put on a show free of charge? This has become outrageous; the NCAA needs a major reform. They need to realize that if people want to put money towards certain athletes and programs that it should be allowed as long as it isn’t money for an athlete to blow a game. Or allow the team to pay the athletes themselves a small portion of their $87 million season revenue from all their hard work. From the perspective of the NCAA and all of the networks that broadcast college football why would they ever change? If each school rakes in close to $100 million dollars from merely having a college football program why wouldn’t they accept that money? If the NCAA can make hundreds of millions of dollars for allowing television networks to broadcast their sporting events why would they ever complain? The truth is they shouldn’t. They should never stop cashing in on athletes that they don’t have to pay a dime to and are mandated by the NFL to spend at least two years in their league before they can even be drafted by an NFL team. It may be the most profitable business in the world. Although it’s not stated exactly what they do with the profits they incur, it can only be assumed that a large portion of it benefits other students whether it is used to build new classrooms, hire teachers, or provide extra financial aid. But do these benefits outweigh their costs on a moral and personal level? I’m not opposed to everyone benefiting from the success of a few, as long as the few are benefitting the most. In this case they are not. The few are reaping the least benefits; they are the ones who are regulated by the NCAA rulebook. If someone such as myself were to accept $100,000 from a private donor no one would question it, there are no rules against it since I am not on a varsity team in the NCAA, even though I play club and intramural sports. But if my roommate who is on the Capital University football team accepted that same amount he would be suspended from football and possibly expelled. It’s a problem that has grown into a senseless battle of the NCAA’s power over the athletes who participate under their rules. Something needs to change, and that something is the NCAA. College football is going to continue to grow in our society. There is no limit to its potential, hundreds of college programs exist and continue to expand and grow. As long as people continue to go to or tune in on Saturdays, or Thursdays, there will be a profitable business venture for the universities, the NCAA, and the big time networks. There may quite possibly nothing in sight about the system that says there will be a change anytime soon. Even though there is a downward trend in the economy, this is a business that is booming and continuing to grow faster and faster. It is known that there are flaws in the system, which is run by the all-powerful, mighty tyrant, NCAA. With some hope, maybe there will one day be a world where college sports aren’t all about the money, where academic integrity and morality take precedence in a place where higher education meets athletics, college football.