#ncaaexploits

This is the hashtag a former student of mine suggested I use while live tweeting the national championship game tonight. I don’t know that I have it in me to live tweet a game I am forcing myself to watch, but that’s another story. Duke and Wisconsin are interesting schools, from the perspective of exploitation. In one sense they, like all big time college athletic programs, meet economists’ definition of exploitation. Dave Berri has applied a straightforward model to determine what Final Four players *should* be earning and has concluded that a quartet ought to be million dollar players among this year’s Final Four cohort. On the other hand, though it’s not uniformly the case, both Coach K and Bo Ryan tend to recruit from more socioeconomically advantaged environs. This fact complicates the more brazen and ugly aspects of the exploitative enterprise that is major collegiate sports.

On the other hand (I think I am on my fourth hand by now), since tonight’s broadcast will more or less be a shameless exercise in propagandizing for the “collegiate model,” nuance be damned.

Speaking of damning nuance, Darren Rovell tweeted out an article yesterday about how much Kentucky’s loss on Saturday was going to cost the school (as well as other allied business interests).

In response, I tweeted the following:

It’s amazing really – in one breath insisting that players have no value unless they are recognizable to the casual fan and in the next endorsing the straightforward idea that *winning* has concrete value to Kentucky. Which means, by inescapable implication, assembling a team with good players – regardless of their notoriety – serves the school’s economic interests.

Last week I mentioned that, according to the Rovell test, most players on a Super Bowl team shouldn’t get paid, since a very large portion of the Super Bowl audience doesn’t follow the NFL closely and only knows the names of the marquee players. More immediately, we could extend Rovell’s Q test to the vast majority of coaches of teams in the NCAA tournament, since the casual NCAA tournament fan couldn’t name most of them.

But this isn’t ultimately about Darren Rovell, of course, or elementary errors of logic. This is about the power of ideology.

 

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