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William C. Altreuter
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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I'm not made of stone-- I fill out a bracket every March just like everybody else, but I feel guilty about it. My college sports experience was limited to a single season as a walk-on for the Cross-Country team of a D-III school, but even then, and even at that level I had to fill out and sign a lengthy document certifying my amateur status and pledging that I would not accept any gratuities from any source. As weird as that was (to date I have received no offers for a sneaker contract or other endorsements)  there was something kind of nice about it as well. I was participating on a college team, even though I was nothing much at all as an athlete. For me that's pretty much what college sports should be like, and while I understand that it's more expensive to put a football team on the field than it is to start a team of guys in their underwear I still believe that college sports should belong to the athletes, and that athletes are people who want to participate in sports.

Of course that's simply not how it works, and it hasn't been since at least the time when the Monsters of the Midway were students at the University of Chicago. When Theodore Roosevelt reformed college football the idea was to protect the players from serious injury and economic exploitation didn't enter the picture. When I look at college athletes I think the same thing as when I see their contemporaries in military uniforms: You poor chumps. You poor, exploited bastards, you have no idea about the bill of goods you've been sold. I'll tell you what, it would make my heart sing if the first two teams on the boards at tip-off tomorrow just stood there and refused to play for the first two minutes. Take the game back for themselves, you know?  Just for two minutes.

UPDATE: Or maybe something like this.

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