A couple of months ago I put up a short post, HERE, about UNC academic advisor Mary Willingham’s efforts to expose the sham of athlete academic performance in the UNC system, particularly UNC-CH. Now, Professor Willingham’s allegations are back in the news after having been authenticated by the recent statements in HBO and ESPN interviews of former UNC-CH football players Deunta Williams, Michael McAdoo, and Bryon Bishop. Just to illustrate how abysmally poor the academic abilities of some UNC athletes are, the graphic below (which I have reformatted to better fit this post) is an essay written by one of them to satisfy an assignment in a UNC-CH African-American Studies class:
Lest you think this is an excerpt, it is not. That’s it. That’s the entire essay. Now make sure you are sitting down when I reveal to you that the paper was graded, according to ESPN, as an A-minus paper.
So, what connection is there between this and the recent proposals to allow college athletic teams to unionize? Well, first, the foregoing part of this post graphically illustrates that many college athletes are not students in any serious sense, but rather employees of the school’s athletics department. The unionization movement, therefore, simply reflects reality. And, in my view, anything that will expose and highlight this reality can only hasten the process of bursting the higher-education bubble (meaning the “business model” of our university system, the one that makes college so inordinately expensive) in American academe, and that’s a good thing.
Although details are lacking at this point, I think it can be assumed that taxpayers would balk at funding the salaries of unionized college athletes, so the requisite revenue would presumably come from game ticket sales. That would make even more visible the obvious truth that college athletic programs are a business separate and apart from the delivery of a college education. Once athletes become paid in a manner commensurate with their value to the athletics program money machine, I don’t think the association could long endure.