NCAA Dead Set on Risking Health of Student-Athletes to Make That Sweet March Madness Money

Illustration for article titled NCAA Dead Set on Risking Health of Student-Athletes to Make That Sweet March Madness Money
Photo: Patrick Smith (Getty Images)

The NCAA is, in my humble opinion, the most fucked up organization in American sports. For some reason (capitalism, to be clear), college sports have continued despite there being a whole-ass pandemic. While this year’s March Madness tournament was canceled as a result of the pandemic, the NCAA is currently working on plans to hold next year’s tournament in one location.

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Who cares about the health of your student-athletes when there’s money on the table, am I right?

ABC News reports that the NCAA is currently in talks to hold the 2021 March Madness tournament in one single location, slightly similar to the way the NBA held this year’s playoffs and finals tournaments. The difference would be that the NCAA plans to hold games in different locations throughout one city, as opposed to the entirely centralized bubble utilized by the NBA.

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As of now, the organization is only in talks with Indianapolis to hold the tournament, as that was where the Final Four was already scheduled to occur and is where NCAA headquarters are located.

“It will be a very controlled environment,” NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “It’ll be different, it’ll be historic and it’ll be hopefully something we all treasure and experience just once, hopefully not ever again.”

This, dear reader, is pretty fucked.

Look, I know people love college basketball and it’s easy to get caught up in wanting a tradition to come back. We’re talking about kids, though. Yes, they may be in their late teens and early 20s, but they’re still kids.

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Kids who are not being paid for the risk the NCAA is asking them to take. Let’s keep it a buck: The NCAA isn’t pushing for March Madness to come back for the love of the game. They’re doing it because they lost $375 million this year as a result of canceling the tournament. This is all about profit, and yet they’re asking these kids to risk their health and their lives for nothing tangible.

Come the fuck on, now.

It’s not even like this event is guaranteed to be 100 percent closed off, as there are still discussions being held over whether or not fans can be in attendance. That doesn’t sound like “a very controlled environment” to me.

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It’s even more distasteful considering Black students tend to make up a substantial number of college athletes. This is a disease that has disproportionately hospitalized Black people, and they’re being asked to risk this to put money in other people’s pockets. Is the NCAA at least going to cover the cost of healthcare for anyone who may get sick?

There are so many factors here that should be front and center but aren’t.

For example, it’s unclear if students will be given the option to opt-out of playing this season with no penalty, similar to what the NFL did at the start of this season.

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If the fucking NFL might be doing a better job than you, then you really need to fix your shit.

We’ve already seen COVID-19 rip through college football, with over 60 games canceled this season due to infections, and the Ivy League has announced the cancellation of all winter sports due to the pandemic.

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You would think the NCAA would just use basic morality and not put their student-athletes at risk, but nope. Despite cases rising nationwide, the college basketball season is still set to start on Nov. 25.

Jr Staff Writer @TheRoot. Watcher of wrestling, player of video games. Mr. Steal Your Disney+ Password.

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DISCUSSION

Maybe they are hoping to convince people that March Madness is an essential service and student athletes are essential employees and get them moved to the front of the vaccine line. So they jump ahead of a few nursing homes. Those old people aren’t bringing thrilling quality sports entertainment to the masses.