I was surprised to learn recently that chattel slavery in these United States was not really all that bad. In fact, slaves had a pretty sweet deal! They only had to work for a year, and were provided food, housing and a college education. Then they could leave and had the opportunity to make tens of millions of dollars. If they did not like working without monetary payment, they could walk any time they wanted.
Wait, that is not how it happened? Oh. You can see how I would be confused given how NCAA basketball is being discussed. NCAA college basketball is equivalent to slavery, according to some.
Folks, this is stupid. It is also offensive and racist. The best college basketball players are not slaves. They are student athletes who get a high-profile stage to showcase their talents and an opportunity to jump to the National Basketball Association for incredibly lucrative contracts beyond most people’s wildest dreams. They are given a free college education in exchange for their play. If they do not like the deal, they can walk at any time.
American chattel slavery was very different. It was an evil system that forced people to labor. They were frequently abused and beaten. They had their wives, husbands and children ripped away from them. Women were raped with no consequences because they were the property of their owners. Equating that to college basketball is historically ignorant hysteria, offensive and racist.
Speaking of racist, the NCAA’s treatment of players is not a race-based policy. The same rules apply to players of all races: black, white, Hispanic and every other race. Making this a racial issue unnecessarily polarizes the issue, especially in a society where a huge number of people immediately dismiss allegations of “racism.” This is “the boy who cried wolf.”
Look, it is possible to make the case that the NCAA treats their athletes poorly – exploiting their image and skill for huge profits while not allowing them even the use of their own likeness. That case is weakened when the person making the argument is using hysterical and ignorant comparisons. Please do that.