J. Patrick Dobel (University of Washington, Evans School of Public Affairs) has recently posted his article, The Beleaguered Ideal: Defending NCAA Amateurism, on SSRN. The abstract is as follows:
Amateurism defines a core value of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The NCAA is one of the country’s largest and most visible nonprofits that represent over 1000 colleges sponsoring athletic programs. The ideal and NCAA rules around Amateurism have generated a large number of scandals in intercollegiate athletics. Commentators attack amateurism as a hypocritical ideal that does not really exist and rationalizes student exploitation. This article argues the present NCAA definition of amateurism is too narrow and misses the dimension where all students legitimately aspire to use their student experience as preparation for careers. Once the idea of amateurism encompass its own foundations like glory, championship and self-worth and is connected more clearly to being a student, it opens up policies that keep the core ideal intact but address contemporary concerns about exploitation and student welfare. The paper examines the historical and moral foundation of the ideal and defines the ideal as a structure of moral and psychological aspiration that requires a cost and infrastructure to be realized. This reality undermines the NCAA’s narrow conception. In addition actors and forces that surround intercollegiate athletics drive the subversion of amateurism at the points of recruiting, staying in school or leaving. Seeing amateurism as a structure of aspiration can guide conversations on contemporary controversies involved in keeping students in school and addressing the problems involved in the transition from college to paid professional athletics.