Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Elephant In The Room......

A decent back-and-forth presented today at/on NPR regarding Nick Saban's comments about agents and their influence in the college game, addressing an issue that continues to be ignored....

Sorry, Saban: Players Need Money. And Agents

Saban flat-out likened sports agents to "pimps." Now, understand this. Nick Saban makes $4 million a year from Alabama, plus something else again in side deals. And while he takes home this lollapalooza, all the players he coaches are forbidden, by antiquated amateur rules, to earn a living.

Meanwhile, agents, who are honorable brokers in all other parts of the entertainment world — representing musicians, actors, writers and, of course, all hard-working athletes except American collegians — help guide and make more money for their clients, taking a reasonable legal fee for service.

Agents should then be allowed to work upfront deals for the players, with the understanding that they would be repaid when the player hits the pro jackpot. Some blue-chippers — especially in basketball — might be signed up to a bonus right out of high school. Other late developers might not be worth an agent's advance till much later.


Saban: Coaches, ADs Had Call With NFL On Agents

"Where you have prohibition, you have bootleggers," Saban said. "It's always been that way."
He said he has temporarily blocked access to Alabama's practices for NFL scouts — a possibility he hinted at earlier this summer because of the agent issue. Saban said access would be reopened sometime after Aug. 25.

He said the decision wasn't related to agents, but that he didn't think it was fair for his players to be evaluated during two-a-day practices in triple-digit temperatures.

Saban has been one of the most outspoken advocates of finding ways to ensure that rule-breaking agents whose actions lead to punishment of players face penalties as well, including suspension of their license for a year or two.

On one hand, you have coaches, like Saban, who must protect the investment of their institution and maintain control over the program (understandably). And on the other, the near-discrimination or disenfranchisement of the athlete earning potential, not seen in any other undergraduate career.

Would a change drastically alter the (unwritten) rules of the game from how we've known it? Will it tarnish our sentimental concept of what the "game" is? Most likely, and I have no idea what a post-athlete compensation world would look like 5-10 years after it takes place.

Is it high time that athletes be included in the fruits of the labor? Absolutely.

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