College football season has started. I plan to go to a few Samford games and I’ll keep up with my beloved Alabama Crimson Tide, but this is yet another year when I’m going to try to dial back my enthusiasm for my favorite spectator sport.

Now here’s a question that causes me to lose sleep and to question my conviction that labor markets are generally efficient: what keeps the NCAA from falling apart? It’s a cartel that is very successful at keeping its members from paying players their market prices. What keeps the cartel from dissolving?

Note: I was going to offer a hypothesis about revenue and non-revenue sports, but Stanford University Press was kind enough to send me an unsolicited review copy of Rodney Fort and Jason Winfree’s 15 Sports Myths and Why They’re Wrong, and chapter 1–the first myth–is “Revenue Sports Pay for Nonrevenue Sports.”

If you’re interested in a decent read, here’s an article on redistribution in college sports I wrote for Forbes early last year.