College Athletes: Go on Strike!
By David Henderson
The latest John Stossel show on Fox Business Network is another home run. In it, he deals with the economics of sports: ticket “scalping,” the NCAA’s enforcing a monopsony on the labor of student athletes, laws against gambling on sports, and much more.
One item I particularly liked: his interview of Boyce Watkins, a finance professor at Syracuse University, who laid out how unfair it is for colleges to bring in millions of profits and to pay their coaches sometimes millions of dollars each, while at the same time refusing to pay even their best athletes anything above tuition and room and board. Watkins tells of Chris Webber, a basketball star at the University of Michigan, complaining that he walked by a store that had T-shirts with his picture on it and yet he was not allowed to share in any of the royalties and his mother could not afford to attend one of his games.
I’ve written earlier about how the NCAA enforces this monopsony.
I got a kick out of Watkins’s proposal: That in the final four basketball tournament in late March or early April, the 40 or so players get together and say they’re going on strike unless their colleges pay them. I’m not sure how plausible this is. Each player would be risking not being in the limelight. For those who think there’s a high probability that they’ll make it to the NBA or one of the European teams, why make a big fuss? They’re close to the big payday. For those who think the probability is close to zero, all their time playing is now a sunk cost. Why give up their one chance to be in the limelight?