Yes, College Baseball Players Are Still Exploited By The NCAA

Photo via Getty
Photo via Getty

Here’s a tweet:


Kanell was swiftly reminded that this is because baseball is set up such that players can either go professional and develop in the minors or go to college. That he didn’t remember this is even juicier because Kanell himself was drafted.

However, just because baseball has a two-track path that separates the amateurs from the professionals doesn’t mean that the NCAA is any less complicit in exploiting the labor of college baseball players. The presence of a professional option for baseball players doesn’t nullify the value that they bring to the NCAA, who signed a $500 million contract with ESPN in 2011 for broadcast rights of several NCAA championships, including the College World Series. Forgoing your earning power and embracing serfdom are not the same.

There aren’t a ton of pieces for Kanell (who should usually just be ignored) to read because college baseball is dwarfed in comparison by college football and college basketball, not because of its inherent virtues as a sport or its more open professional structure. It makes money for the NCAA, but it isn’t the cultural behemoth that the other two sports are, so it naturally won’t be the flashpoint for any debate.

Malformed arguments about college baseball’s false amateurism aside, it is an absurd exemplar of the virtue of the NCAA by its tangential relationship with the classroom. All of the “student athletes” are out of school and have been for weeks, per the academic calendars of the eight schools that made the College World Series final. College baseball players are playing on their own time now, making millions of dollars for the NCAA, away from the institution’s myth of the value of coeval athletics and education.

Any argument that the NCAA is merely a para-educational organization, and not a vampiric pyramid scheme, is built on the pretense that a college degree is sufficient compensation for an athlete’s labor. There’s no legitimate reason the scope of that labor should fall so far outside of the school year. Just because college baseball players passed on the chance to make money in favor of playing in college doesn’t make them any less exploited.

Staff writer, Deadspin