Column: Time for college players to demand justice

Hey, major college football player. Can you give us a few minutes of your time?

Don’t worry about drawing the attention of your school administrators. They’re too busy scurrying off to a new conference or lining up some exorbitant television deal to notice what we’re about to discuss.

You’re getting ripped off. Big time.

Have you considered a strike? Really, I’m not kidding

Oh sure, you’re getting a college education out of the deal, but that’s not even close to being fair. While you’re out there busting your butt every day, the guys in suits are padding their coffers with your efforts.

What you guys need is someone like Marvin Miller, the late, great baseball union chief who died this week. Someone who can drop some knowledge about just how badly you’re getting hosed. Someone to get you organized. Someone with the guts to say, “Play fair, or we’re walking.”

Yep, walk.

While the last thing we need is another labor dispute in sports, there may be no greater miscarriage of economic fairness than what’s going on amid the ivy-covered columns of higher education.

“There’s a reason we call it higher education,” said Ellen Staurowsky, a professor in the Department of Sport Management at Drexel University in Philadelphia. “It’s supposed to aspire to higher ideals, to try to do what’s best from a social justice point of view. It’s such a shame for higher education to have a system in place that has really exploited the athletes in a way that is not defensible.”

Think that college degree makes it defensible? Not even close.

Oh sure, a school such as Georgia might fork over around $40,000 a year to pay for your room, board and tuition, but let’s do some quick math and see how you’re making out.

Say a football program provides 85 scholarships a year. Multiply that by what they’re spending on each of you, and it comes out to $3.4 million.

So, what does the school get out of this?

Well, let’s look again at how the Bulldogs are making out.

According to Forbes, which does an annual ranking of the nation’s most valuable programs, Georgia turned a nifty little profit of $53 million on football last year. That figure will only rise as leagues expand into super conferences, television deals keep hurtling toward the stratosphere, and the suits figure out how much more they can make off a playoff system.

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