What’s the Score?

Closeup of National Football League players smiling

Deion Sanders Made the Right Decision

The decision by Deion Sanders to take the Colorado coaching job was the right one. He is taking much heat from the African-American community for it. But I believe those in the community who are being critical are coming from a personal perspective. In America we all work hard and try to make decisions that are in our own best interests as well as those of our family. But people are saying that he is a sellout. I don’t understand that thought process by people who are also trying to provide for their families. The success he had at Jackson State University, an HBCU, should be celebrated. But that does not mean he should stay there for a noble cause placed on him by other people.

One of the rumors circulating as to why he left Jackson State has to do with money. It has been reported that there was a clause in his contract that provided Sanders with a share of Jackson State’s attendance profits. However, there were rumblings that the school was not going to follow through on that promise, which would be a problem for anyone. Sanders has not confirmed or denied this rumor. But if true, I’m certain anyone would call foul and walk away. Another rumor is that cars that belonged to him and his family members were broken into numerous times. Also, his office was broken into during a Jackson State football game. Any of these incidents could cause someone to feel uneasy about staying put.

Let’s also consider that the school was paying a reported salary of $300,000 per year to Sanders, with half of it going back to the university to offset some of the football team’s expenses. His new contract with The University of Colorado will reportedly pay him $30 million over the next five years, with none of it going back to the school. People, especially black people, have been critical of him leaving an HBCU just to earn more money at a predominately white institution, saying he is a sell-out. I don’t think that’s a fair assessment because he helped build Jackson State into a powerhouse in only three years.(I will not talk about him saying God told him to go to Jackson State, because God can also tell him to take the Colorado job. In my opinion, religion is always personal. Even if you say it out loud).

I think that we as a community should stop projecting our personal views and perspectives onto the celebrities we follow. They are individuals with their own families to take care of. And they will make decisions that are in their best interests – not ours. If a celebrity takes on a noble cause, as Sanders did for Jackson State, then decides later that they want to move on, we should be happy they provided the support and wish them luck in their new challenge.

Closeup of National Football League players smiling

Student Athletes Shouldn’t Be Paid

Well, the debate is pretty much over. Should college athletes be paid? A recent California law will allow them to be paid, and the NCAA agrees. For many years, I have been against paying college athletes. The average cost of a four year public college or university education is $25,000 per year. An education at a private college or university costs about $50,000 per year (source: The College Board). Therefore, the athlete is getting a free education. What is the value of a free education? To me you cannot place a value on it. Many people believe because the schools are making millions, the athlete should share in that wealth. There is an argument that can be made for that position. But how many families can afford college without the student or parent taking on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt? The college experience is more than just classrooms and books. A young person develops friendships and potential business contacts that can last a lifetime. How much is that worth?   

The NCAA’s decision to consider allowing college athletes to be compensated for their likenesses reflects a major change in their position on this issue and raises important questions. How will a school determine how much an athlete in each sport should be paid? The process of trying to figure this out is likely to take some time.  But, let’s be clear, I am aware of the amount of money that swirls around big time college sports. The schools are making millions. And some people view the modern athlete as nothing more than high value slaves! But the kid whose only avenue to get to college is through sports is getting a tremendous opportunity. Does being a student athlete make it harder to find time to study and practice? Of course it does, but time management is a skill that can be learned and will be very helpful to a working professional, which the majority of student athletes will become because only 2% of college athletes becoming professional players.  A college degree gives that young person an advantage. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it certainly does open doors. And let’s face it,that is all a person wants. If a kid is good enough to become a professional, then he or she will become what they’re worth. But the value of a free education cannot be underestimated.                                                       

So let’s talk about players receiving compensation. There is support in the public for college players to be paid and I do understand why. Fans are aware of the money colleges make because of the efforts of these young men. And it is only natural for people to want young people who are performing at a high level to be paid accordingly. The players want to be paid because they are also aware of the huge sums of money being paid to the schools and coaches. It is only natural for them to want to share in the fruits of their labor. In America if you are special and in the eye of the public, you are paid handsomely. That is the American dream! I get it. 

Sports are a special part of college life. Along with the education and social development of the young person, it should be preserved as one of the traditions of American life. I hope the system does not get turned into another way to remove one of the last opportunities for a person to enjoy the college experience without the pressure of making money. Working adults know this feeling!

Let me know your thoughts! I encourage comments that are against or support my position.