March Madness is as much about money as it is basketball. The only problem is: Those who do the work, don't take home the cash.
CINCINNATI -- It is a profit center not only for the TV networks that carry waves of basketball games but also for the universities that populate the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.
And then consider food vendors, statisticians, sweat boys, laundry concessionaires, trinket hawkers, ticket scalpers, bookies, arena technicians, limo services, officials, secretaries ... need I continue? Even many of those in the stands stand to prosper from the proceedings of March Madness: Some are wining and dining clients who will presumably demonstrate their appreciation for an invite to “The Big Dance” by renewing their contract with XYZ Inc.
The only ones who don’t cash a check at the end of the men’s NCAA bacchanal are the guys everyone came to see: the players. Oh, they get their scholarships. They get room and board. They are expected to compete athletically and hopefully academically. But because of restrictions on jobs and off-season work, many are embargoed from competing socially. Naturally, some succumb to easy money from sleazy elements to buy a pizza for their post-game date. Seeing the scorer’s table festooned with banners “Celebrate the Student Athlete” rubs me as being an attempt to assuage the NCAA’s blush reflex at the disparity between the haves and the have to’s. I think of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s observation that “The louder he spoke of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons.” Lip-service paid to nobility doesn’t make one noble.
If the NCAA is astute enough to negotiate a $10 billion contract with CBS and other outlets to carry the tournament, they can designate some of their best and brightest legal minds to work out an equitable sharing with the guys who are the show.
Or - mark my words - the players themselves will organize and lay claim to a far bigger chunk of the action than the suits could ever conjure in their maddest March moment.
And that's my 2 cents.
Dennis Janson's "My 2 cents" column is published every Monday and Wednesday on WCPO.com. His video commentary airs every Friday at 6 p.m.