Higher Education Is, to Be Blunt, Exploiting Its Athletes

Tim Goral's picture
Thursday, April 11, 2013

When employers gain the lion’s share of the value created in the workplace, we commonly call this economic exploitation. Slavery is the extreme example, but exploitation can occur when workers gain something more than zero percent of what is produced.

A nation’s “wage share” provides a rough approximation of how the value of what a country produces is split between workers and employers. In the United States, the wage share is about 58 percent.

Bear with me a minute, because I’m now going to relate this to March Madness.

Like millions of others, I enjoyed watching the just-completed NCAA basketball tournament referred to as March Madness. Something about seeing those young athletes play and experiencing the passions of each matchup is captivating in a way that the NBA is not.

But let’s be clear that despite its emotional appeal, college basketball is a business. You can’t watch it without seeing dollar signs everywhere. And like any successful business, schools’ and the NCAA’s decisions follow those dollar signs.

That fact doesn’t particularly bother me so much as the economic exploitation that follows.

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