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The Student-Athlete Business

College athletics are supposed to be for amateurs, but these games literally make millions for their schools.  BYU receives approximately $5 million per year just so ESPN can televise their football games.  Coaches of amateur college athletes can make millions.  Many of “student-athletes are unprepared for college, and recruited for their athletic ability, not their academic ability.  Why do we require athletes to be students?  Should we be paying college athletes?  Should they even go to school at all?  Dr. Darron Smith of the University of Memphis has some interesting opinions on this topic.

If you look at college athletics, it’s a business model.  They need workers, these players are workers.  If they graduate, great!  Fantastic!  But if they don’t, great!  Let’s get the next chump.  It’s a business, and business has to have employees and so let’s pay them.  I’m all for that.  I’m all for unionization.  Why not?  By the time a football player is 20 years old, they’re already having signs of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a chronic brain injury.)

If universities recruit troubled athletes, what are their responsibilities?  And should colleges be recruiting students with police records?

These guys probably had a mood disorder, probably had anger problems, probably was ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder.)  ADD can cause significant impulsivity, significant anger issues, fly off the handle, not knowing how to cope with the vicissitudes of life.  These young men have seen things that their more privileged counterparts have not seen and faced, so yeah they come with trauma.

The university should be prepared for that, should have crisis management ready for when these young men.

In this episode, we’re going to look at college athletics in general.  In our next episode, we’ll look more closely at how does BYU handles its student-athletes, especially black athletes.  What is your opinion on college athletics?

The Student-Athlete Business


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Racial Portrayals of Christian Athletes

I had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Darron Smith of the University of Memphis a few weeks ago.  He’s recently written a book When Race, Religion, and Sport Collide.  In our first discussion, we discuss media portrayals of two Christian athletes, Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin, and how race plays a role in how they were portrayed in the media.  Dr. Smith said,

We aren’t conditioned to see Asians as basketball players.  We see Asians as mathematicians, scientists. We see them as quiet, meek, humble, some of those qualities that we ascribe to people.  We see Asians as being allies, we see Asians as being safe, model minorities.  Certainly someone like Jeremy Lin, who is actually southeast Asian.  This guy would be the phenomenon that he was, the run that he had a couple of years ago, but he’s continued to do that as time has gone on.  It was a perfect set of events that took place that gave him, that catapulted Jeremy Lin to his stardom that he had.

Tim Tebow is the perfect Christian.  He’s a white male, wealthy, he’s handsome, a college graduate, he’s an athlete.  He’s got all of the things that embodies a football player.  He’s a southerner perspective, so in the south, the image of Tim Tebow personifies football.

Tebow is celebrated for his Christianity, and someone like Jeremy Lin, who is also deeply Christian, deeply Christian.  I would even argue probably more Christian than Tebow because he’s so humble about it.  He doesn’t parade it around, but we weren’t interested in that, with that aspect of his identity, Lin’s identity, but Tebow’s identity, it just fit his identity.  That’s the narrative that we typically hear about at least in the South, of what a football player should be, someone like Tim Tebow.

Had you considered that race might play a role in how the media covered these two players?

Media Stereotypes of Christian Athletes