Sunday, December 13, 2015

How uBooster Will (Help To) Destroy College Football

Press The Flesh
Interesting story in the NYTimes recently about a kind of Kickstarter for college athletes, a company called uBooster. The idea is that fans of laundry pledge money into an account for an athlete to come play at their school. The money then sits in stasis until the kid's eligibility runs out, at which point it turns over to the ex-player. UBooster, of course, takes a cut, and presumably also has the fun of holding onto money for years until it pays out, as well as just keeping any funds that go to a kid that, say, dies before payday. The same way that any store loves to turn your perfectly good and valid money into gift cards that only get used at about 75% redemption, but I digress.

Here's the thing about this: I can't see how it violates any NCAA rule of note. uBooster isn't paying athletes; it's paying *former* athletes. uBooster isn't connected to a school. Once your eligibility is spent, you are dead to the NCAA anyway, with your spot taken by the next salmon in the stream, and your likeness free to be exploited in perpetuity in video games, footage and so on. Helluva plantation they've got going over there. And since the vast majority of college athletes don't go on to the pros, and consequently leave college without a dramatically better earning potential than before they got in, let alone all of the injury risk... well, a million bucks here and there might be a true school-changing event. Along with something that any kid would be frankly insane for not considering in their decision making process.

As for skepticism over how much money would be raised here, since non-donating fans get the same benefit as the donators... consider that over $6mm was just raised on Kickstarter to bring back a decades-gone show, Mystery Science Theater 3000. And there are a lot more football fans (because let's face it, football fans are going to be the people who pony up for this) than anything else, especially if any recruit ever says something like "I thought about going to State, but Beauford University had a cool mil in my post-eligibility account, and Mama didn't raise no fool."

The kid who gets a uBooster payoff isn't any worse off for their pro ball aspirations. They also have a nice little nest egg to cover if they can't find a gig after college ball is over, especially if they still need some more time to get enough credits for a degree. It's a win-win for everyone, that is, except for the status quo.

Because once you introduce legal money to be given to college athletes in any way, shape or form, it's one more nail into the make it already coffin that is college sports, frankly. Once there's a Super Conference of the most affluent alumni and boosters (err, SEC) that attracts all of the best recruits (umm, they probably do already, since Red State Kid has more warm-weather months to hone their craft, and Red State Parent is less likely to tell Junior to stay away from football, because that's where all the brain ouchies happen, and the vast majority of college kids pick a school that's less than 250 miles away from their home)...

Well, doesn't it make every other region's slave football less interesting, since everyone involved knows that it is third rate?

There's a reason why the DC to Boston megalopolis has, with few occasional exceptions, been a big miss on college ball. The colleges in that corridor don't have to make the nut with sports, because their alums are successful and donate to the schools regardless. (Fun fact: no Ivy League school needs, on any real level, to make a dime off current undergrads to be financially fine. They could more or less set money on fire for years, and might, if only to show they can.) Carving out an exception to that standard to bring in some future NFLer gets you laughed out of the room, which is why Rutgers is in such a fine state of affairs these days. Anyway, digressing again.

What we have in this country is an artificial scarcity of football, a sport that, if professional leagues were tiered and subject to relegation / promotion, could number into the hundreds of teams, with all-year games going on across the country. We also have a massively corrupt enterprise that pervades and perverts higher education, and a system that is teetering on the edge of obsolescence, especially with technology making it easier and easier to give it that last little kick.

Go, uBooster, Go! You don't mean to, but you're going to help to make the world a dramatically better place, by bringing down the thing that you are meant to serve. It couldn't happen to nicer people, really.

No comments:

Ads In This Size Rule