The Triangle Rattlers, a Durham-based semipro team, plays in this 2008 photo

Bob Geary’s post is here. Mike Potter’s response follows. Please join the conversation in the comments section.


Dear Bob,

I’m going to have to respectfully disagree on any notion of paying college football players to play the sport they’re supposed to love.

I don’t know about you, but I had a college loan payment that lasted for years after I finished at William & Mary. I’ve had a couple of short-term diseases and medical procedures I wish I hadn’t had to undergo as well. I’ve paid parts of college bills for five different people and anticipate paying on a sixth one in a few years.

But I have yet to meet one middle-class person in my generation or later who actually got a need-based financial grant. And even most 4.0 students coming out of high school can’t seem to get merit scholarships.

I don’t have the official numbers, but I’d guess that outside of kids whose families are desperately poor there aren’t more than 100 students at North Carolina colleges walking away with a sheepskin without any kind of bill—except for the “scholarship” athletes.

Now, being a lifelong sports fan who loves to see them go at it I don’t begrudge them that one little bit. But for anyone to claim they’re being somehow “exploited” or undercompensated by getting the chance to play a sport for four or five years—and in a few cases getting the chance to make millions of dollars after their careers end—just doesn’t pass the giggle test. Those full-time Division I grants-in-aid are bordering on priceless.

Underprivileged students playing at big-time universities get to keep every cent of their Pell Grant money, so everybody has a car. The rich kids’ dads had already gotten them theirs anyway, the middle-class parents are so ecstatic no bill is coming their kids get cars as presents.

Now, should a college honor a four-year scholarship for a player who is injured and of no more physical use to the team? Absolutely.

Should any school be lowering its academic standards more than 10 percent to allow a high school All-American to come help out the team? Absolutely not.

Should the NFL and NBA have to start ponying up for farm systems like those that exist in hockey and baseball? Of course they should.

Should every pro sport have a system where a team acquires a player’s draft rights right out of high school and keeps them through his college career, just as the NHL does? Indeed.

Should coaches who break rules be suspended from the profession until the universities they got into hot water are in the clear with the NCAA? Correct.

Are some coaches being overcompensated? Yes, but that’s something that needs to be addressed in adjusted federal income tax rates.

But can I shed a single tear for a big-time college athlete who’s just getting impatient he doesn’t yet have the million dollars most of us are never going to get? In one word: No!