Amateurism, as related to sport, is defined as “one who engages in sport as a pastime rather than as a profession” (Merriam-Webster, 2019). However, there is still a gray area in regard to what the difference is between an amateur and a professional athlete. For example, for many years professional athletes in the United States were not allowed to participate in the Olympic Games, while other athletes around the world were defacto professionals since they were full-time athletes paid by their respective countries. That changed in 1986 when rules were changed in an effort to boost lagging interest in the Olympic Games. Subsequently, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hit the media and financial jackpot with the success of the U.S. Dream Team in the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona.
Unfortunately, there is still controversy in regard to the application of amateurism in college athletics. Athletes at large Division I institutions generate millions of dollars for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), as well as NCAA member schools. It could be argued that college athletes receiving scholarship money are already paid, and are therefore employees. This was confirmed by the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) when they sided with Northwestern football players trying to establish a union. This destroyed the longtime contention of the NCAA that college athletes were students first, secondarily athletes. The court ruling stated, “The players spend 50 to 60 hours per week on their football duties during a one-month training camp prior to the start of the academic year and an additional 40 to 50 hours per week on those duties during the three-or four-month football season. Not only is this more hours than many undisputed full-time employees work at their jobs, it is also many more hours than the players spend on their studies.” By the way, football at Northwestern reportedly generated approximately $235 million in the ten year period from 2003-2012 (Nocera & Strauss, 2016). Unfortunately, on appeal, the Washington D.C. NLRB office dismissed the case, claiming it did not have jurisdiction over state-run colleges and universities. Many are baffled by the decision, since “national” typically trumps “state.” Interestingly, the case was not dismissed because the NLRB ruled the players were not employees, but because the impact of the case would not promote “stability in labor relations” (Strauss, 2015). The NLRB may have avoided ruling on the issue of whether athletes are employees due to the number of stakeholders involved (Bhasin, 2018).
On September 30, 2019, California governor Gavin Newsom enacted a law that allows college athletes to receive endorsement deals. This creates a nightmare for the NCAA since such deals would make college athletes accepting endorsements ineligible under NCAA rules. The NCAA is claiming the new law is unconstitutional (Gutierrez & Fenno, 2019). The new law was signed into effect by Governor Newsom on the LeBron James sports show The Shop: Uninterrupted (“Gavin Newsom,” 2019).
Directions: Week 4 Assignment:
Please review the resources provided in this assignment. Then, in a 3-4 page essay, please share your position on the amateur issue in college sports, as well as how you think this complex issue will play out over the next several years. Try to place yourself in the position of college athletes, university presidents, fans, and the NCAA, in order to consider all stakeholders in your analysis. Finally, please defend your position with facts and stakeholder theory (for information on stakeholder theory, please see the link above to the article authored by Bhasin). Be sure to carefully proof your work, and follow APA format throughout. Please include a title page that includes your name and the assignment topic, as well as a reference page at the end of your essay which includes a minimum of three (3) scholarly sources. Don’t forget that every source should be correctly cited in the text throughout your essay.
Plagiarism: “The most frequently observed form of academic dishonesty is plagiarism. Plagiarism is the adoption or incorporation of another’s ideas without proper attribution of the source. It is more simply defined as taking the writings of another person or people and representing them to be one’s own. It is your obligation to read, understand, and comply with the University System’s plagiarism policy.”
Amateurism defined (2019). Merriam-Webster.
Bhasin, H. (2018, August 8). What is stakeholder theory? Marketing91.
Gavin Newsom signs California’s ‘Fair Pay to Play Act’ with LeBron James & Mav Carter. (2019, September 30). The Shop: Uninterrupted.
Gutierrez, M., & Fenno, N. (2019, September 30). California will allow college athletes to profit from endorsements under bill signed by Newsom. Los Angeles Times.
Krattenmaker, T. (2019, March 18). March Madness revenue is insane. So is soaring student debt. Time for March sanity? USA Today.
Nocera, J., & Strauss, B. (2016, February 24). Fate of the union: How Northwestern football union nearly came to be. Sports Illustrated.
Strauss, B. (2015, August 17). N.L.R.B. rejects Northwestern football players’ union bid. The New York Times.

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