- The NCAA Men’s basketball tournament will begin later this month.
- The annual "March Madness" tourney generates over $1 billion in TV ads, broadcasting rights, ticket sales, and corporate sponsorships.
- In a recent interview with INSIDER, 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang said the NCAA’s ban on paying athletes — or even allowing them to have part-time jobs — is "immoral."
The NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament is set to tipoff later this month, and the debate on whether NCAA athletes should be paid (or allowed to earn money aside from playing sports) is once again at the forefront.
In 2015, then-President Barack Obama told the Huffington Post, "students need to be taken better care of because they are generating a lot of revenue here" but that he opposed paying college athletes because it would create "bidding wars" for athletes’ services and "ruin the sense of college sports."
Andrew Yang, a fellow Democrat and 2020 presidential candidate disagrees.
In an interview with INSIDER earlier this month, Yang called for the practice of not paying athletes "immoral."
"It is perverse that we’re paying athletic directors and coaches millions of dollars in many cases," Yang said. "These games are on television. These kids likenesses are literally on video games, and meanwhile they’re scrounging around for a meal money and being told, ‘It’s because of this great education you’re getting.’ We know, in fact, a lot of these kids are barely attending classes."
Yang adds, "It’s a terrible message to send to our young people that it’s okay to exploit these young athletes, some of whom are risking injury every time they step out onto the field or on the court. For what end? To enrich the institutions? To enrich the athletic directors and coaches?"
Athletes generating millions of dollars, Yang says, "should be able to participate in at least some of the upside because it’s immoral to do otherwise."
Of the argument made by universities that they educational institutions and not profit-driven ventures, Yang counters, "I mean, come on, you’re building arenas, you’re selling tickets. You’re profiting to the tune of millions of dollars. We have to stop being so dishonest about it."
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