Twitter users had plenty on their minds about how the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is exploiting Black college athletes, as tip off for the Sweet 16 round of March Madness was scheduled for Thursday night.
A debate about whether college athletes should share in the huge profits they generate for the NCAA and their schools has raged for years. The basketball tournament makes up roughly 80 percent of the NCAA’s $1.1 billion in annual revenue, according to Bloomberg News.
Meanwhile, the TV network broadcasting the tournament will have one camera dedicated to following Duke University’s Zion Williamson–what’s been dubbed a “Zion cam.” That’s to make sure viewers can see every move he makes on the court and to boost the network’s ratings. Williamson, however, won’t get a single dime of the ad revenue.
That debate has swung in favor of the athletes this year, Bloomberg said. The NCAA finds itself under pressure to reform its model because of legal challenges, athletes demanding change, and shifting public opinion.
The view that the NCAA and colleges are pimping athletes is especially sensitive to African-Americans, many of whom easily make the connection to the nation’s history of exploiting Black labor. To many, the relationship is similar to plantation owners getting wealthy from their Black slaves.
Color of Change, a Black activist organization, posted an online petition titled End the NCAA exploitation of Black athletes, in which it points out the financial hardships of the players who often fail to graduate.
“Because of the NCAA’s strict rules, many student-athletes often go hungry or have difficulty paying rent. And because of the rigorous demands the NCAA puts on Black athletes to generate revenues – many find it impossible to earn a degree while they play,” the statement said. “In fact, Black student-athletes are significantly less likely to graduate than their fellow white student-athletes. Not only are the NCAA’s rules denying Black athletes fair compensation, they’re robbing players of a chance to get a degree.”
Public opinion was long been on the NCAA’s side of the debate. Many have argued that receiving a scholarship is fair compensation to student athletes. A 2017 Seton Hall Sports Poll found 60 percent of people held that view, which represented a sharp decline from 2013 when 71 percent of people said scholarships are enough.
At the same time, 40 percent of people believe athletes are exploited by not sharing in the profits they generate—the highest number in the poll’s 10-year history.
Some folks have said on Twitter that top Black student athletes should take their services to historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) to at least help those financially struggling schools. Others were quick to point out that racism underlies the views of those who argue that the athletes do not deserve to share in the profits.
Scroll down to see some of the social media discussion.
Y’all really be pimping college athletes... he won’t even see a dime of the money. https://t.co/M4HrzixC8J— Ace (@BizTheGallant) March 23, 2019
It’s amazing to me how many people tout the “free market” except as it applies to big time college athletics. Free markets work. So allow athletes an opportunity to earn with their talent and service they provide. #Endshamateurism— Clarence Black (@CBlackishere) March 25, 2019
Thousands of Black Athletes but no Black Colleges.#MarchMadneess— 808nate (@808Nate1) March 25, 2019
Is the term ‘economic slavery’ appropriate?— 🅑🅛🅐🅒🅚 Bʀᴜᴄᴇ Wᴀʏɴᴇ ⚔️ #TheFandomMenace (@bushido49ers) March 27, 2019
Asking for some college athletes. https://t.co/MQ5qLiFTA2
If the top 100 black athletes from high school chose a HBCU for the next 10 years...that too would change the dynamics of colleges as well as college sports!?— Make Statements Ask Questions!? (@Senkisms32) March 26, 2019
I used to believe that college athletes shouldn’t be paid— boyyy do I retract my statements! Maybe I get heated now, realizing that the money-making athletes are mostly black or of color. The people making the money are white men. Sounds a lot like servitude to me.— Ashley (@ashdavi01) March 23, 2019
College sports are a billion-dollar industry, and the @NCAAs 'amateurism' policy ensures Black student-athletes see none of it. Sign now to tell #NCAA Pres. Mark Emmert to stop the exploitation of Black athletes: https://t.co/voUqrKcT33 #PayThePlayers #MarchMadness @marchmadness pic.twitter.com/gr6z1wEVsg— ColorOfChange (@ColorOfChange) March 23, 2019
It’s black and white. College athletes cannot be paid by anyone as it relates their labor. A free education is not payment. pic.twitter.com/T2OXS0AuJp— Put a Mask On 😷❤️ (@DavidKimbrough1) March 23, 2019