Thoughts on Reform in College Sports

I’m a college professor and former high school basketball coach who has taught many college athletes over the past decade. I’ve recently listened to two books that I highly recommend, books that have got me thinking a lot about what reforms might be needed when it comes to men’s college basketball and football or any other sport that generates significant revenue for its university.

college sports, pay for play, NCAA, college basketball, football, Indentured, Joe Nocera, Jeff Benedict, Ben Strauss, Armen Keteyian

The Professional Minor Leagues Give Athletes a Choice Other Than College

Three Ideas for Reform

  1. Negotiated Player Contracts: These contracts could be anything ranging from partial one-year scholarships to full rides with monthly stipends in the thousands of dollars. These contracts could include the sort of healthcare provided or scholarships that are honored even after professional careers have ended. For many schools and most athletes, nothing would change. There’s nothing about being a student that means you can’t earn money. That some football and basketball players would get paid wouldn’t disrupt parity. There’s already nothing equal or level about the college football programs at places such as the University of Texas compared to Bowling Green. Title IX? Check out Alabama’s football coach’s salary versus whatever the volleyball or softball coach makes. The main problem here is that billions of dollars are being made on the hard work of and talents of 18-22 year olds while they get very little in return. If all the sudden the University of Kentucky basketball players were earning $1,000 a month stipends, I don’t think this would make their fans any less enthusiastic.
  2. Freshman Sit Out Their First Year of College: While I’m all for the athletes who bring billions of dollars to their respective conferences earning some of that money, I also think they ought to be students. I don’t think players have any business coming through school for a couple of months before not even finishing their second semester in college to turn pro. I don’t blame today’s current players. They are doing the best they can within the current system. For those students who are going to represent their colleges on the playing field or court, they ought to be students at those institutions. For athletes who really want to be students too, that first year will be an important step to getting off to a strong academic start. The requirement would also discourage those players who aren’t interested in being students from ever showing up to college in the first place.
  3. Continued Development of Professional Minor Leagues: I don’t think potential professional athletes should have to wait a year after high school to turn pro. I don’t think young people who are only interested in playing a sport should be pushed hard into going to college. I’m excited for young basketball players to have something such as the NBA Developmental League where they can continue to develop much in the same way young baseball players have for decades.

I hope this post can be the start of a thoughtful conversation in this digital space about what might work best when it comes to NCAA sports, revenue, and the working conditions of college athletes. Thanks for taking the time to read this post, and I hope you’ll be willing to contribute to the conversation.

 

Accepted to Queens World Film Festival

We at Torg Stories are excited to announce that our film On the French Broad River has been accepted to the Queens World Film Festival in New York City.

The film will screen on Sunday morning March 19th, 2017 at 10:30 a.m. in the Zukor Theater at Astoria Kaufman Studios. Click here for more information about the festival.

trailer features music from Jeremy Vogt and Erika and Shawn Wellman

The seventy-five minute documentary On the French Broad River follows the journey of we four Torgs as we raft 147 miles from Rosman, North Carolina, through class III and IV whitewater rapids, all the way to Douglass Lake in Tennessee. With environmental themes related to water quality and best management practices within watersheds, this film is about the river, the people who use it, and the social and political issues that surround it. Utilizing interviews with those connected to the environmental organizations RiverLink and MountainTrue as well as with experts in the fields of biology, wildlife conservation, and geology, this is an educational and heartwarming film for the whole family.

On the French Broad River Torgerson French Broad River Paddle Trail Asheville Rosman MountainTrue RiverLink

Charlotte, Bill, Izzy and Megan Torgerson on their Star Inflatables raft

 

Grandfather Mountain Hike

We Torgs used a day off from school (thank you for your service, Veterans!) to drive east and hike at Grandfather Mountain near Boone and Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

Upon our arrival, we were told the top of the mountain, where the swinging bridge and most of the trails are located, was closed due to high winds. Warning to anyone who is interested in going: it’s $20 per adult and $9 for kids to be admitted to the park. Also of note: you can park on the Blue Ridge Parkway and hike in if you’re up for it. That’s what I’ll do as soon as our kids can handle the hike. We were admitted for half price since the top of the mountain was closed.

After about an hour inside the park, the top was opened. Here are some pictures and video from our visit:

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the bridge at Grandfather Mountain

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it was still windy on the bridge

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ladders were fun and scary

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a video from the ladders

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Grandfather Mountain, hiking, Blowing Rock, North Carolina

My wife Megan started to get nervous here.

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Grandfather Mountain, Blowing Rock, Boone, North Carolina, Hiking, Blue Ridge Parkway

We did it!