Billions for the schools but not one thin dime for the players who make it all happen!

By Art Beitchman

As you fill out your bracket and prepare to watch tonight’s March Madness Sweet 16, it might be nice to think about how we got here.

Dr. James Naismith was a Canadian physical education instructor who invented basketball in 1891, peach basket in one hand, basketball in the other.

If he were to see what his sport has evolved into 124 years later, he likely would be totally in shock.

The NCAA tournament is a wonderful celebration of basketball, here in the USA and around the world, but the bastardization of March Madness has corporations, networks, and everyone else in between cashing in, all but the student athletes on the court generating all this wealth, but for others, under the guise of  “amateur status”.

It’s impossible to determine the exact numbers the NCAA hauls in, but the deal signed in 2010 with CBS Sports, and Turner Broadcasting for $10.8 billion through the 2024 season is an astronomical amount to be paid out to a “nonprofit” entity as the NCAA!

With a laundry list of additional sponsors that include, Allstate, Bing, Buffalo Wild Wings, Buick, Burger King, Enterprise, Fire HD, Infinity, Lowe’s LG, Nabisco, Reese’s, Northwest Mutual, and UPS, where does all this great amount of wealth go? Not to the players generating it, that’s for sure!

Putting the whole Final Four experience in the proper perspective is Zack Bohannon, captain of the Wisconsin Badgers from last year’s team that went to the Final Four. He succinctly stated, “With all the corporate sponsors, it’s like a professional league, only the student-athletes are amateurs, and we don’t have any say in the process”.

Who knows if this arrangement will ever change with the giant money on the table for years to come. But when all the BS is put to the side, and fans step back and see billions of dollars being paid out to watch basketball games, it can only be called what it is:

Professional basketball.