By Larry Fitzgerald
March 15, 2017
When do the athletes — most of them Black — get their fair share?
Many years ago my mother, Sally Fitzgerald, taught me how to value a dollar. “Practice trying to save 25 cents out of every dollar,” she said. “It’s a great financial strategy — it challenges you to keep an eye on your money.”
My biggest disappointment in seeing former President Barack Obama leaving the White House after eight years was that no investigation of the NCAA was done. If Black Americans were ever to receive reparations in this country, that is the pool of money to take it from. I thought the government could dive into the NCAA pool and try to go about rewarding us as a people for slavery.
Everyone gets all excited about March Madness and the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. It’s all about the seeding. The NCAA selection committee had many questioning its seeding. Defending Champion Villanova (31-3), Kansas (28-4), Gonzaga (30-1) and North Carolina (28-7) are all number-one seeds.
Billions of dollars are generated over the next three weeks with 68 teams playing to the Final Four in Phoenix and eventually a National Champion. The Gophers (24-9) are back in the NCAAs as a number-five seed Thursday in Milwaukee versus Middle Tennessee. Middle Tennessee pulled a huge upset last year as a number-15 over number-two Michigan State.
The Big Ten gets seven teams led by number-four Purdue and number-seven Michigan, the regular season and tournament champs. Wisconsin is seeded number eight — how is that? They beat the Gophers twice and finished ahead of Minnesota, Maryland, Michigan State and Northwestern. Yes, for the first time ever the Wildcats are in the money.
I have always been curious where the money goes that’s generated annually by the NCAA. I have long referred to them as the most corrupt organization in sports. That opinion has not changed.
College football and basketball generate enormous amounts of money for the 300 Division I programs across the USA. The wealth gets lost in athletic budgets funding the other sports teams and individuals and million-dollar salaries to primarily White coaches.
Universities and the television networks work hand in hand with the sponsors — apparel and shoe companies. Good to see Samuel L. Jackson, Charles Barkley and Spike Lee in those Capital One NCAA-themed spots.
Yes, I was hoping that former President Obama, because he loves sports, would have poked into this growing gravy train of wealth generation, especially considering that the majority of the labor force is Black players under the guise of amateurism.
When the great Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier in sports during the spring of 1947, White America did not see us as human, much less as equals. Major League Baseball called it an experiment, remember? However, they knew we could play.
We as a people were segregated back then, spending our hard-earned money supporting the Negro Leagues. Our dollars were unified then and went around in a big circle within our community.
Nobody gave a hoot about the NCAA tournament in the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Not until the late 1960s did the growth spurt begin. It’s still growing, the enormous wealth is staggering, and we don’t get a dime.
Sure, a handful of players get drafted each year first-round to the NBA, and others get their educations and start careers. But believe me, 60 to 70 percent of these thousands of athletes never overcome this.
That’s why my excitement is tempered watching the games. I have all these questions, and the NCAA says the exchange of a free education (scholarships) is fair compensation. I’m no Johnny come lately. I have seen where the Wild goose went.
I have echoed these sentiments before. We are supposed to be happy with what we do get. It’s a vicious cycle that has gotten out of control. When, I ask, are we ever allowed to touch the ceiling?
Larry Fitzgerald can be heard weekday mornings on KMOJ Radio 89.9 FM at 8:25 am, on WDGY-AM 740 Monday-Friday at 12:17 pm and 4:17 pm, and at www.Gamedaygold.com. He also commentates on sports 7-8 pm on Almanac (TPT channel 2). Follow him on Twitter at FitzBeatSr. Larry welcomes reader responses to email@example.com, or visit www.Larry-Fitzgerald.com.