ATLANTA — For Americans from all walks of life, “March Madness” means the same thing: filling out brackets, gathering with friends around the TV, and watching college students in de facto indentured servitude vie for the Men’s Basketball National Championship.
“This is the most wonderful time of the year,” said Mark Emmert, the President of the NCAA – which sold exclusive television rights for the tournament for $6 billion dollars. “Not only do we get to see some of the best athletes make history before our eyes, but also something nobody ever sees in any other walk of life: the open and flagrant exploitation of the toil of youngsters for the entertainment of many and the enrichment of a select few.” Though the NCAA forbids student-athletes from receiving financial compensation of any kind while in college, their work in this year’s tournament is expected to generate one billion dollars for the NCAA, CBS television and their sponsors.
“Look, these kids are well taken care of,” said University of Kansas head coach Bill Self, aboard a booster financed private plane. “They get about $25K a year in tuition and room and board, and they don’t even have to go to class if they don’t want to. All that sets them up well for whatever it is that happens to them when they graduate.”
The UK basketball program generates roughly $16 million dollars for the school annually. Self makes a $3.9 million dollar base salary and is the state’s highest-paid employee.
As for the players themselves, excitement over the Big Dance has overshadowed any sense of being taken advantage of. “Wolfpack goin’ all the way!!” said North Carolina State freshman point guard Rodney Purvis from his dorm. “GOIN’ ALL THE WAY, BABY!” reiterated fellow freshman guard and roommate Chase Cannon. Purvis will have his femur shattered in a Sweet Sixteen game next week — which will result in the loss of his scholarship and insurance benefits — drop out of college altogether, and try to catch on with the NBA Developmental League. The following season, Cannon will be suspended for receiving a suit from a booster to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
“Who gives a shit?’ responded Glen Brookings, lawyer for Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. when asked what he thought of a practice thought to have died in Colonial America being alive and well in the 21st century. “I got Louisville going all the way and New Mexico busted my bracket. That’s the real crime.”
Amid criticism of the unfair treatment of the players, President Obama has promised swift action. “Out of the original sin of slavery, to Jim Crow, to the organized labor movement – we Americans have come a long way in terms of securing the right of fair pay for fair work for all our citizens. These young men, who toil for the greater glory of their academic institutions, should be treated no differently.”
“Except for Indiana” he added. “I’ve got them winning it all.”