College Basketball Players Should Be Paid

ESPN uses players as unpaid cast.

The Walt Disney Company’s ESPN Events division and the adults who run big-time college sports tried to use student-athletes as props for a fall series of college basketball games. That scheme has provided the strongest evidence that student-athletes need to be paid. ESPN Events had hoped to get a number of college basketball teams into its Lake Buena Vista, Florida property, seal them off from the rest of the world in an attempt to keep them from getting COVID-19 so ESPN could have television programming. ESPN Events would have protected the players as best as it could because it needed programming and the college bosses would gladly take ESPN’s money. That money comes from cable, satellite and phone subscriber fees paid by a large number of people who never tuned into ESPN. Disney’s ESPN owns some college events.

There was a problem with COVID-19 testing protocol. Despite COVID-19 outbreaks on campuses throughout the country, the adults who run college sports have deemed sports is essential and have decided to allow college football and college basketball to proceed. It is TV programming and schools can get revenue from TV. The student-athletes are taking a risk of contracting COVID-19. They are not paid but in the eyes of the TV people and the college bosses should be grateful they have a chance to make money for a school and maybe get an education along the way. Disney’s ESPN has decided to ditch the putting student-athletes in a bubble notion. Disney’s ESPN Events division hopes to have the tournaments resume in 2021. The student-athletes are merely unpaid cast members of a television ensemble. The coaches and their assistants, the training and medical staff all get paid. The referees get a check. ESPN is paying the announcers and the production team. The student-athletes? They get nothing.

(AP Photo/Bill Wippert, File)