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"Student Athlete": Documentary by LeBron James et al on the NCAA's hypocrisy

Discussion in 'College Sports' started by InstaFace, Oct 3, 2018.

  1. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    This seems significant. With his business manager Maverick Carter serving as quasi-producer, LeBron James has lent his presence and network to a forthcoming documentary meant to expose the NCAA's corruption and hypocrisy.

    In some ways the documentary follows a worn path of unfairness and hypocrisy that infests the recruiting game and the NCAA as a whole. In other ways, the film finds new ground as it humanizes how the embattled governing body's rules and actions affect lives after playing careers are over.

    Carter and James were brought into the project by Steve Stoute, a marketing and music executive who became passionate about the stories told in the film. The film is directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who has won two Academy Awards for documentaries, and Trish Dalton.

    The film's characters are Nick Richards, who currently plays basketball at Kentucky and shares his recruitment process; Shamar Graves, a former Rutgers football player who struggles through life after college; Mike Shaw, a high-profile basketball recruit whose career and life have been derailed by injuries; John Shoop, a former college coach who lost his job after speaking out about the NCAA; and Silas Nacita, a running back at Baylor who was homeless.​

    Comes out next Tuesday 10/9, on HBO.
     
  2. Caspir

    Caspir Member SoSH Member

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    5,005
    This, and Shut Up and Dribble have me really excited for social justice Lebron using his pulpit to take these sorts of topics on.
     
  3. luckysox

    luckysox Eeyore Bronze Supporter SoSH Member

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    I just happened upon this earlier today when I was folding laundry. It was good, and it pissed me off, a lot. Good for James and Carter for being a part of this. But in my opinion, it's not going to change any minds, at least not the minds the need to be changed. The people who have the power have all the money and all the control, and they are not going to give it up lightly. The NCAA sucks, it especially sucks for poor kids, and it especially, especially sucks for poor kids of color who have real promise in a high profile sport. They get used by the institutions, by the fans, by the media, and by corporate America. And the vast, vast majority of them are never going to recoup what they are worth during their time in school (and even during the recruiting process) and will end up back in their hometowns being just as poor as they used to be.
     
  4. 54thMA

    54thMA Member SoSH Member

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    5,265
    It was tremendous and it pissed me off a lot as well.

    There was a statistic I saw that read something to the effect of there are about 90,000 college athletes who play football and basketball every year and about 300 of them get drafted.

    That's less than 1/3rd of a percent who get drafted, nevermind actually have a long career where they make a lot of money.

    The money the schools and the NCAA make vs how the 99.7 get treated is shameful and disgusting.

    Imagine Nacita playing football in Germany for 300.00 Euros a month, that's about 400.00 US or Graves who was working himself to death and sleeping in his car for 1,500.00 a month.

    Talk about eye opening; truth be told it's no big secret that this goes on, but seeing it on a one on one human level really made it hit home.
     
  5. axx

    axx lurker

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    5,898
    It's a nice little racket they got, but you can't pay players because of Title IX; and you can't even let players get away with taking money on the side because that would open up the NCAA to losing it's non-profit status.

    I'd like to see an actual solution without blowing it up and disbanding college athletics altogether... although you could certainly argue that it should be.
     
  6. The Needler

    The Needler lurker

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    I’m curious why you are calling him a “quasi-producer.”
     
  7. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    The role ascribed to him seems like he is taking a promotion and coordinator role somewhat akin to that of an executive producer, particularly in his quotes about the project and how he's making appearances to promote it - but of course he has no background in video production. Reading between the lines, it also sounded like he (and his LP, Mr. LBJ) had taken an equity position in the film.

    If you know more about the roles here, by all means enlighten us.
     
  8. InstaFace

    InstaFace MDLzera

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    I've promoted this solution before, half-baked as it is, and as impossible as it might be to imagine people doing it:

    Split the current American university into 3 entities. Each can remain a nonprofit as far as I care, but the important thing is that they will be governed separately and have control over their own budget:

    1) Podunk State University, a place that employs teachers to teach (paying) students learn useful things, and then help those students get jobs. If those students want to intern / moonlight at the Research Center, great, but if they want to learn accounting, have some parties, and go work for Ernst & Young, nobody is going to sit around telling them the only useful thing they can do with their lives is to stay in academia. There's a gym, and some fitness classes.

    2) Podunk State Research Center, a place that employs researchers to seek grants and conduct research within their research facilities. A substantial amount of that budget can come from the (legacy) university endowment and profits therefrom. If they want to staff a Center for Toe Fungus Research, go nuts, but the students aren't paying tuition for it. If they happen on a cure for cancer, their tech transfer office will make PSRC a fortune.

    3) The Podunk State Lemurs, a collection of athletic teams with historic connections to the University. It functions like the multi-sport Athletic Clubs that host the major european football teams. Their ownership will start out mostly given over to PSU and PSRC, who will collect a share of profits and appoint directors, but over time external parties may buy in, e.g. boosters. Under the club's umbrella are 3 types of teams:

    A) Pro- or Semi-Pro: The revenue-generating spectator sports, chiefly basketball and gridiron football. More may emerge as consumers' tastes change. Players on their teams can be sourced from wherever, paid however, and one perk can be free admission and tuition to PSU, whenever their playing days are over.

    B) Competitive: Sports with a nontrivial pro circuit and deep participation by kids around the country, which attract a little TV coverage and spectating, and may break even or come close to breaking even depending on how you allocate the overhead. Baseball, tennis, hockey, soccer, maybe others in some isolated cases (track, golf, lacrosse, etc). Players aren't paid except in extraordinary circumstances, but they're given plenty of resources (maybe room and board for more serious programs) and treated as, effectively, minor leaguers. Any "members" of their club can try out for their team, particularly PSU students, but they need not attend the university. Players who make a team in a competition season may be given admission and discounted tuition to the University.

    C) Recreational: Sports where nobody has delusions of pro aspirations, just recreational goals. Students of PSU are given membership for free or steeply discounted. They get use of the practice and workout facilities, and the coordination of competition schedules with other clubs. Volleyball, cross country, rowing, swimming, fencing, that kind of thing. Membership on the teams will be largely limited to PSU students because they will dominate the membership, but they can let other people join in if desired.

    Sports can move between the tiers depending on how the club is seeking to compete and where they can make money, but at root they are a 501(c)(7) sports nonprofit. They can remain in a competition conference with the clubs of other schools they've traditionally played at the beginning, but their competitive associations may be very different between Tiers A, B and C and may shift around as things shake out.

    Solves:
    - Tier-A coaches will be paid a lot of money if they win at a high level and bring in revenue. Most assistants, nevermind head coaches, will have employment agreements with incentives. They can pay their players whatever they want.
    - No more dancing around the notion that the athletic departments of a university are doing anything other than lining their own pockets. It's now OK to line your own pockets, as long as your stakeholders are cool with it.
    - No more mixing of the mission of the main university, with aspiring professors told "of course you need to teach! (but, ssshhh, we really need you to do research and win grant money)".
    - Endowment for the University itself will now be focused with the students in mind, not other goals that queer that focus.

    Problems:
    - Will need to rearchitect the arrangements with pro leagues, so that they can draft and then buy out players on Tier-A sports teams from their commitments to the U's sports club. This may be a valuable revenue generator for the club.
    - Will need to get rid of the notion of a limited number of years of eligibility. This will solve itself in football given the short shelf life, but in basketball, these clubs will become a de-facto minor league, not that different from the Eurobasket clubs.
    - The motivations of top researchers from the Research Center to teach anything other than an occasional lecture to students at the University will be even less. Unless they're recruiting. But it'd be to their advantage to at least stay in touch, for some discounted labor, etc.
    - It may only partly solve the problem of unlimited student loan money creating administration bloat and ridiculous tuition hikes.

    In business schools, aspiring PE analysts are taught cases that show how a company trying to do too many things at once, which operate at cross-purposes and starve each other of wisely-invested capital, or create too many internal frictions from political wrangling, can actually be operating as less than the sum of their parts, and that everyone will be better off if they are split up. The conglomerates of the 1970s are usually the prime examples, though most are gone now, but businesses like Citi are ripe for present examples (to say nothing of GE). The same dynamics - the self-undermining, corrupting influences, the mission creep, the groups who are just in it to make a buck and would be much-relieved to not dance around that subject - can be seen in universities across the country.

    So if you take an approach like this, the individual components can at least agree on what their goals should be, and then set about figuring out how to reach them. Right now, they're all hopelessly hamstrung and you see it pop up in everything from the athletic to the academic side, and weird federal regulation that's only getting weirder.
     
  9. The Needler

    The Needler lurker

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    None of those things you mention either exclude or define someone as a Producer or an Executive Producer. These titles don’t have universal meanings like gaffer or editor. His title on the project is Producer; if the doc wins the Emmy, he’ll be among those who collect a statue, and it seems very likely he was crucial in getting this product finished, sold and released at HBO, or both, which are quite traditional roles for a producer of this type of content, certainly much more than “having a background in video production,” which suggests a technical role. I don’t think there’s anything “quasi” about his being a Producer on this film.
     

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