See that shoe? It says Adidas

By Robert Dinwiddie

Eff you, Doughboy! I can read. See that shoe? It says Adidas.

A free market approach to college sports, most notably, Football and Men’s Basketball would be a complete failure. Clay Travis raised some interesting points in his article, What’s a 5 Star Worth. I can’t disagree with him that the NCAA is completely unfair and irrevocably corrupt. It might be the most inefficient regulatory organization in the world, but hey, this country was built on the efforts of the elite to subjugate the needy. So, who is to blame? Not the NCAA or the executives, for certain. They are operating within the boundaries and under the oversight (or lack thereof) of the member institutions and the power extended to them from the University Powers That Be. 


My belief is a completely unregulated free market system will lend itself to extreme abuse of nearly every entity involved, and a black market will still exist. My expectation is that organized crime would almost completely rule the outcomes of games, signings, and eligibility. Fans want to see competitive hard fought contests in which the outcome of the game gives them sincere bragging rights, not outcomes that can easily be picked apart by pointing out the integrity with which the game is played. That’s what makes the NFL so great. Granted, we all know about the wink and shrug tactics regarding recruiting and eligibility, but the actual “in-game” management and competition is rarely seriously questioned as being intentionally manipulated. Both teams in a given league typically have a comparatively level playing field and officials do their best to remain as objective as possible. Are there exceptions? Sure, but I don’t believe it is systemic. In the end, on the playing surface, it all comes down to man vs. man, coach vs. coach, and team vs. team execution. 


The collegiate/amateur approach of the old school NCAA does need serious modification, though. It would require some reimagining of the whole process, but it’s basically the NFL with less games, more sports, more divisions, academic requirements, more competition for players, buttchugging, hated rivalries, mutually beneficial regulatory requirements, co-eds, dorms, the Greek systems, and a National Championship playoff! 


Do you know why other leagues outside of MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL fail in comparison to their mainstream counterparts? 


It’s because they start from scratch! Without fan bases, revenue backing, reserves, contracts, and perhaps most importantly, ascendant players with a voice. They have crappy coaches, no brand, reject players, non-existent fan bases, non-enforceable retainer ability, no farm leagues, and ridiculous geographical locations, for the most part.


Can you imagine a pro-league SEC spinoff affiliated with each member institution? Think about the prospects of the SEC combine or the SEC Draft. The primal rabidity of the fan bases would be epic. Beer and liquor served at college games. Co-eds with student tickets! After parties on campus with compensated players making it rain at the Pike House party, “Paid Jocks and Chicks wanting Rocks”. I could see the UTEP party now…“Gold Miners and Gold Diggers”. These leagues tend to be made up of college or club athletes anyway, why shouldn’t the PRO-NCAA hold onto them, if they can? It’s just more money in their pockets if they keep them around instead of letting them run a fade route into the sunset of their respective pro league.


All of the sudden, the Professional Establishment has to rethink their strategy and start to actually take some factors into account, specifically fan bases. 


Competition breeds strength and innovation. You think the NFL would go down without going DEFCON 5 and initiating Global-Thermo-Nuclear War? Both college leagues and pro leagues would thrive and flourish eventually due to the commitment of their backers. Does anyone think the Pro-NCAA version of the WNBA would be far superior? What about if players didn’t bolt for the NBA after one season and actually wanted to stay around to develop their abilities. How much better would the Pro-NCAA football game be if Coaches didn’t have to worry about recruiting but could focus on the in-game strategies? It’s a winning formula all the way around and guess who wins, the Players, Players’ families, Fans, Boosters, Pro-NCAA, Universities, the US economy, and eventually, the NHL, MLB, NBA, and NFL.


All it takes is a small shift in mindset. We can still have institutions of higher learning. We can still have amateurism. We can still have non-revenue sports. We would just get all the benefits of professional leagues plus the almost never-ending college experience. We could live this song for a while longer. Isn’t that alone worth it? 


Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.