Thursday, August 20, 2009

1001 Ways To Tune Up The World, Number Fifteen

15. Just allow colleges to pay athletes, already.

This one's timely -- I thought of it yesterday, and then here, today, comes the news that the NCAA imposed an imaginary punishment on Memphis University for violations of NCAA rules, including (of course) allegations that someone received something of value. (In this case, the athlete's brother allegedly got free airfare.)

Colleges use athletics for two purposes: One, to let students play sports. Two, to raise money. The major sports -- basketball and football -- are used to raise money for collegee, and it's dumb to pretend otherwise. The "student-athletes" on college football teams raise enormous amounts of money for the college athletic departments (and, by extension, for the colleges.) They raise the profile of the colleges they play for, and provide free advertising on TV after TV all fall and winter.

And colleges pay students. They pay the students to go there not just by virtue of scholarships, but by virtue of fake jobs and airline tickets for their brothers and houses for their families and more.

There's nothing inherently harmful about paying student athletes; colleges pay students to work for them all the time. It's called "work study." When I was in college, I had tutoring jobs and registration office jobs and other jobs that were subsidized and only available to colleges. Why can't one such "work study" job be "halfback?"

While there's nothing inherently harmful about paying students to play for a college, there is something harmful about pretending that they don't, and not just because Memphis can get players and then win all those games (and knock four other teams out of the NCAA Tournament) and then not even be punished. (Taking away their wins? That doesn't put those other teams back into the tournament, NCAA.) Allowing the current system to continue (the current system being colleges paying athletes surreptitiously) cheats other schools that aren't willing to violate NCAA rules as frequently and it sends the wrong message to the students and athletes.

Plus, allowing colleges to pay players might just balance out the college football scene -- Ivy League schools with their large endowments, and other rich schools -- could compete with the football powerhouses and warm-climate schools by offering to pay their students more.

And, paying college students might end the practice of having kids jump to the pros after 1 or 2 years. If everyone's so concerned about kids getting an education, why force them to choose between millions or a degree?

I look forward to the day, a few years from now, when students can go to the Campus Job Center center and choose between "Math Tutor" and "Power Forward."

13. Ban driving any kind of automobile, motorcycle or other personal vehicle within 1-2 miles of downtown in any city with a population of more than 100,000.

12. Abolish gym class; instead, teach kids to play musical instruments.

11. Change copyright laws to allow anyone to use anyone else's creative work provided that the copier pay 60% of the profit to the originator and that the copier not cast the original work in a negative light.

10. Have more sidewalk cafes and outdoor seating.

9. When you have to give someone a gift, ask them what they want, and then get that thing for them.

8. Never interrupt or finish someone's jokes.

7. Periodically, give up something you like for at least a month.

6. Switch to "E-money."

5. Have each person assigned one phone number, and then add an extension for the various phones and faxes that person might be reached at.

4. Abolish Mondays and Tuesdays.

3. Don't listen to interviews with athletes or comedians.

2. Have "personal cashiers" at the grocery store.

1. Don't earn more than $200,000 per year.

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