“The NCAA was founded in 1906 to protect young people from the dangerous and exploitive athletics practices of the time. Today, student-athlete health, safety and well-being remain among our top priorities.”
This is how the governing body for major college athletics, describes itself on its website. At Tuesday’s postgame press conference with several players from the University of Connecticut national champion women’s basketball team, the NCAA’s moderator incessantly referred to them as “student-athletes”—not “players,” not “ladies.”
It felt scripted, like she was instructed to use the phrase to convince viewers that these players arecollege students, not assets, not employees. It also felt disingenuous for anyone who is familiar with the NCAA and the major college sports industry.
While the NCAA might once have prioritized player safety and well-being, its primary function now is to make money and help universities do the same.
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The image the NCAA presents simply does not match the reality it has created. It is a picture-perfect case of an organization that has lost its identity by losing sight of its mission.
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