I Usually Like Ralph Nader … Oh Wait …

“The liberal intelligentsia has allowed its party to become a captive of corporate interests” – Ralph Nader

OK, Ralph, I agree with the first quote. You’d be hard pressed to convince most left-leaning folks in America today, but the fact is that the liberal political machine (not unlike much of the Republican party) is a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate interests. Was it defense of the little guy that lead to bailouts of the auto industry? (umm – that’s a corporation.) How about the Wall Street bailout via TARP? That was almost purely on party lines – with Democrats supporting the bailout of Wall Street. Corporate interests.

So, there are clearly times when I agree with Ralph Nader. Then, there are times when he says things that are just off-the-wall. Consider his latest foray into the world of college athletics:

“An entire industry has developed in the youth sports arena — club teams, personal trainers, etc. — to prey on families’ dreams of an athletic scholarship”

Now, I will grant that there is indeed an industry surrounding big-time athletics, and the collegiate level is certainly part of it. These guys are making a lot of money (and somehow selling access to quality seats for huge sums while maintaining tax-exempt status … not sure how that works). But “dreams of an athletic scholarship”? I think not, Ralph. The dreams are of a professional contract.

I think Mr. Nader’s rhetoric got overtaken by his mission. He wants to end athletic scholarships. Naturally, he frames this in his populist mantra of oppression of the little guy and corporate interests. (And why not? it’s worked for him so far.) The notion that parents are dreaming of a scholarship for the kids is a bit much though. “If I can just make my son fantastic at [enter sport here] he’ll get a scholarship; and once he has that free education in his hand it will be life on easy street.” (Do “student athletes” even go to class?)

Now, I think the answer is to go the other direction. If these athletes are generating massive revenues for the colleges (which they are) why not let them share some of the profits? Why not pay the athletes?

I’m sure there are plenty of arguments for not turning college athletics into another professional sports organization, and I’m all for colleges deciding for themselves how they will conduct business. That said, I think there’s probably a solution shy of full professionalization that allows for some modest stipend to go to the players.

Not if Ralph has his way though.

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