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Hruby: Television Networks Are College Sports’ “Sugar Daddies”

The Will Leitch ExperienceIf you have not yet heard The Will Leitch Experience podcast interview with Sports on Earth columnist Patrick Hruby, go listen to it.

Hruby has written extensively about the hypocrisies inherent within the current college sports structure, and how television money is lengthening the divide between athletic departments and unpaid college athletes. He suggests that the quickest way to enact change in college sports is a player strike — which is also the least likely way, as 20-year-old college athletes who haven’t made any money yet don’t want to end up like Curt Flood.

How would an organized player strike change the game? Hruby first uses the analogy that if you owe the bank $100,000, the bank owns you, but if you owe the bank a billion dollars, you own the bank. Then he turns toward where all the money in college sports comes from:

“The college sports power structure — all these athletic departments, all these conferences and the NCAA itself, all the people that are getting rich off this or control all the money or have all the power? Well, their sugar daddies are the networks, because all this money is coming from the TV networks now.

“So the reason that a strike would work is that the athletes would basically be bypassing their bosses, and basically putting pressure on their bosses’ bosses.

“If you’re an ESPN executive, and you’ve got the upcoming college football championship game, and all of the sudden, the two teams walk out to the middle of the field and sit down, and they’re like, ‘Yeah, we’re not gonna play… unless you do something about us getting paid and change this amateur system,’ would it change overnight? No. But how quickly does the head of ESPN get on the phone with Mark Emmert and get on the phone with conference commissioners, and be like, ‘I don’t really care what you have to do, but you fix this so these guys are playing, because we can’t afford not to have a game here.'”

There’s also some interesting discussion about concussions in American football. Click here to listen to the entire podcast.

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