Dan Le Batard is French for “Dan the Bastard.” It takes a certain confidence — real, imagined, or otherwise — to hold on to such an epithetic surname. Dan’s represented that confidence with a characteristic tendency toward name-calling, hyperbole, and moralistic lecturing. This despite professing a distaste for exactly that behavior:
[I] read it growing up all the time — angry media guy railing
against sports and the bad people in it — and it was just boring and redundant.
In today’s Miami Herald, Le Batard rails against the NCAA in a boring and redundant manner. He also makes a series of false or contradictory statements, ones that are pretty obvious when given a close read. The worst kind of argument is one with a legitimate conclusion supported by fallacious premises, because it weakens other arguments on the topic in the marketplace of ideas. Thus (and with apologies to Fire Joe Morgan, from which we derive inspiration):
Sports are a meritocracy. They aren’t polluted by politics.
I don’t know what those two statements have to do with each other, but the latter one hasn’t been true since 1922. At this very moment, federal judges (appointed by elected officials) are overseeing legal issues from Barry Bonds’ steroids to the NFL Lockout. To quote Drew Magary from earlier this week:
Sports don’t exist in a bubble. They’re part of the real world, which means shit overlaps from time to time.
If insulation from politics is the foundation of an upcoming argument, it’s a bellwether for Le Batard saying something stupid.
You climb based on your greatness. On merit. And that feels fair. But it is odd that the governing body for all of college sports would feel so far from that.
The world watched three NCAA championships awarded this week to teams that battled through tournaments filled with teams that were, themselves, champions of their leagues or conferences. You know, on merit.
The University of Connecticut is the symbol for women’s basketball, right? Championships. Ten thousand fans in the seats. Millionaire coach. It is the standard in female sports and one shining moment for Title IX. But Connecticut’s program lost money last year, spending $723,900 more than it made. This while paying its coach more than that in his $8 million deal.
Funny that the person who would make out best in this particular Title IX transaction would be the man.
Le Batard very cleverly cites the total contract value and not his annual salary, which averages out to $1.6 million — the same amount Pat Summitt, who is most certainly a woman, makes.
The most successful female program in sports
It’s not even the most successful female program in basketball (again, Pat Summitt, and La. Tech has a more consistent history of success as well) but overall, there’s no question the title goes to Kenyon women’s swimming & diving. Kenyon has won 24 of the past 27 national championships.
According to data obtained by Bloomberg through the Freedom of Information Act
Le Batard drops this in to make it sound like colleges are hiding something. Of course, it’s easily available to anyone through the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education website.
Bloomberg reports that the 53 public schools in the six largest conferences lost $109.7 million in 2010. This while the men’s teams at those same schools in those same conferences had operating profits of $240 million
False equivalency. If you want to contrast men’s vs women’s revenues do that, but instead he cites a vague “schools lost” vs “men’s teams.” See what he did there? EDITED: Le Batard uses really awkward phrasing here. He means the 53 public school WOMEN’S BASKETBALL TEAMS lost that much money. But since I use this as the setup to a joke/point later, let’s just use this statistic from the recent study on NCAA program accounting: the average BCS athletic program LOSES more than $2 million a year.
Football and men’s basketball are paying for everything in college sports
Thank you for this new and shocking revelation.
Part of those earnings go to fund the broken model and another part of it goes to make sure Kentucky coach John Calipari gets $31.65 million, two cars, a country club membership and bonuses.
The broken model being… allowing female athletes to compete in sports and get a college education?
When government rules are wrong, the only choice is anarchy.
What government rule? Le Batard hasn’t explained how this is the government’s fault at all.
And by not allowing athletes to work like all the other students, you beg athletes to break your rules, thus stigmatizing them.
It is a myth that student-athletes are not allowed to hold jobs. They have always been allowed to work during the summer and have been allowed to work during the school year since 1998.
What does the NCAA do to fix this? Punishes some Ohio State kids for getting free tattoos, dictator style. Off with their helmets! Make a symbolic statement of fear that echoes throughout the land, so the helpless peasant labor knows to behave. But not before letting him play in the bowl game that brings everyone else millions.
Two arguments that directly contradict each other. Either you think the punishment is warranted or you don’t; you can’t build the “the NCAA let them play” if you find the punishment to be draconian in the first place.
Why is our government spending seven years chasing Barry Bonds with torches and pitchforks instead of pouring that kind of money, time and zeal into prosecuting the fraud CEOs who wrecked America’s economy?
I dunno, ask Jeffrey Skilling & Scott Rothstein, except you can’t because they’re in prison.
Because the government and CEOs were linked by the system, in business together, and so, too, it is with the NCAA. The authority figures all around this broken system are profiting off it, so there’s no incentive to fix it.
The government’s profiting off the NCAA?
The school presidents aren’t going to object. They’ve got rich boosters giving them money to be near football and basketball.
Apparently not, since all those major programs are losing money, remember?
The coaches aren’t going to object. They get fame, glory, promotions and millions off the back of free labor.
Right, because coaching isn’t a salaried position that privileges those willing to work the hardest and longest to succeed in a merit system with the most quantitative measures of success of any profession on the planet.
Why would Fiesta Bowl CEO John Junker want to fix anything when the BCS system was allowing him to allegedly spend 33,000 Fiesta Bowl dollars on his birthday party, 13,000 Fiesta Bowl dollars on an assistant’s wedding and 1,200 Fiesta Bowl dollars in a strip club before being fired last week?
The BCS is not the NCAA and it certainly isn’t the federal government.
The kids get free education — that’s always the argument on the other end.
And free health insurance, which in 2011 is worth nearly as much.
Free education is priceless and utopian. Who doesn’t want to believe in that? But you might believe in it far less if you saw that it was something between a mask and a lie. First of all, it isn’t free. The kids are working for it, paying with their time and bodies.
As opposed to my education, which was funded by time studying and practicing (first music, then writing).
Second of all, the inner cities are being mined for talent and the flabbergasting TV money for basketball and football more than covers the cost of school.
This statement is both a non-sequitur and makes zero sense.
So what you get instead is the NCAA becoming royalty so disconnected from the starving masses it is meant to serve that it says, “Let them eat free education” instead of “Let them eat cake.”
Kudos to Dan on understanding the quotation refers to disconnect, but “fail” on the implementation. Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake” in response to the peasants’ complaint they had no bread. They obviously didn’t have cake, either. A more apt metaphor would be if the peasants had pled for cake, and she said “I already gave you bread.”
HBO Real Sports reports that if Duke basketball players had gotten to share revenue the way the NBA and NFL do, each player would have been worth $1.2 million last year.
And whose fault is it they aren’t in the NBA? Oh, right, the NBA, which has an inefficient and ineffectual rule banning them from the labor pool. Le Batard holds the NCAA responsible for a rule entirely external to the NCAA.
Title IX legislates equality? Yes and no. It isn’t equal, in a capitalist model, that North Carolina on average charges fans $45 to watch the men and $9 to see the women.
Wow, this demonstrates an enormous lack of understanding of the Civil Rights Act. You do know Title IX is part of the Civil Rights Act, yes?
It isn’t equal, as sports economist Andrew Zimbalist told Bloomberg, that the male coach of the shining tribute to Title IX would get an $8 million extension through 2013 while his program bleeds money.
Actually it is literally an example of that equality at work. Because UConn men’s basketball spends so much money, it has to spend an equal amount on women’s sports, which allows them to retain the game’s most desired coach and thus maintain the legacy of success Le Batard seems so enamored with.
“It’s insane,” Zimbalist told Bloomberg. “You show me a Fortune 500 company that would be profitable if the CEO got 75 percent of the revenue.”
Le Batard earlier seemed to imply big corporations were bringing down this country. Now he wants colleges to emulate their behavior?
It claims to not be a business while Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz makes more than $3 million a year.
PROTIP: economics is the study of how human beings make decisions given choice and incentive. Those incentives exist beyond the arbitrarily-drawn borders of profit vs non-profit. The best non-profit leaders will command more money because they operate the non-profit more efficiently and accomplish its goals more successfully. To think otherwise is to misunderstand how human beings operate.
It claims to not be a business while Alabama coach Nick Saban gets all those Calipari and Stoops perks (country club memberships, cars for family, private jet, bonuses), and the average Alabama professor makes $116,000 a year, according to the New York Times.
Aside: that’s a mean number. The median is much closer to $70,000. Your “average” SEC professor is not making six figures. I realize this bolsters Dan’s argument but since I already destroyed the other premise it’s moot anyway.
And you know what happens when you tax-claim to not be a business while funding the losses in women’s sports and filing it under equity? You not only avoid a Title IX lawsuit, but you also get the $771 million in TV money for just this year’s men’s basketball tournament and you get the millions and millions of dollars in federal aid appropriated to state-run schools.
It’s nearly the end of the column and I have yet to understand what Dan Le Batard thinks is the resolution to his perceived problem. Abolish the Civil Rights Act, thus eliminating women’s sports entirely? But he seemed to like them so much earlier.
Let me make this very clear. We, the people, fund the NCAA. We fund it by watching, we fund it by attending, we fund it by giving it tax breaks. That money goes to pay for the educations of millions of kids, many of whom would not be able to afford it otherwise, and 99% of which use those educations to become productive members of our society.
The 1% who go pro in sports? They pay their share of income taxes and state taxes to every state (with an income tax) in which they compete.
The NCAA is right, of course.
It isn’t a business.
It’s a sports-sanctioned and government-funded scam.
Okay. My (out-of-date 1997 edition of the) AP Stylebook does not address the usage of the word “scam,” but since most definitions involve the phrase “fraudulent business scheme” let’s talk about this incendiary word, shall we?
What part of the NCAA is fraudulent? Are they promising anyone something that isn’t being delivered? Are the contracts (as terrible as they are, especially student-athlete LsOI) not being honored? The game may be unfair, but the rules are pretty clear to anyone who plays. The NCAA is not taking your money to fix your roof and then skipping town. You may not like what you get in return, but there’s not a single person buying into the game who isn’t handed a copy of the rules beforehand.
Instead of throwing around words like “scam” and spewing nonsensical articles about the value and then lack thereof of women’s sports, we need to address the cause of the problems in college sports, which are in most circumstances the ridiculous barriers to entry of the NBA and NFL.
Who are the richest athletes on the planet? Baseball players and soccer stars. Think about how those sports differ from pro basketball (in the U.S.) and the NFL, and you’ll figure out how we can fix the corruption in college sports.