This week saw the end of both the men's and women's NCAA basketball tournaments, crowning the University of Connecticut champions in both. What better time than now for Jon Stewart to completely crush the NCAA's argument against player unions?
The debate comes up again because shortly before the UConn men's team beat Kentucky on Monday, its star player, Shabazz Napier, told reporters "We do have hungry nights where we don't have enough money for food." Wait, that doesn't make sense. "I don't understand, surely your wealthy parents or local basketball patrons can just send you a lot of money so you can order food. How could a guy playing on the biggest stage in college sports be going hungry?" Stewart asked.
But players often come from low-income families, and so their parents can't afford to send extra money. And players are forbidden from accepting nearly any gifts, including food – just ask the Oklahoma players punished for being served "pasta in excess." "I guess that's the price you pay to be involved in a struggling startup charity tournament like March Madness," Stewart quipped. Right, except the NCAA actually makes an estimated $11 billion in revenue annually.
Which is why players on Northwestern's football team fought (and won, according to a National Labor Relations Board) for the right to unionize.
Stewart broke it down perfectly: "Since when do unions belong in college sports? Unions are socialist and communist collectives. Sports are about people coming together as a group, working towards a common goal from each according to his abilities, putting the team ahead of the ... oh my god."
The NCAA's argument against players unions? Athletes should play for the "love of the sport," not a salary. "Yes, the love of the sport," Stewart said. "Much like the NCAA broadcasts March Madness for the love of the sport, not for a $10.8 billion contract, which they also love."