No more hunger games for NCAA student-athletes

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DSC_0019-2If former U.S. President John F. Kennedy was right when he said, “the war against hunger is truly mankind’s war of liberation,” then NCAA Division I athletes inched closer to actual freedom April 15.

The NCAA Legislative Council approved a long-awaited rule to provide both walk-ons and scholarship athletes with unlimited meals and snacks in accordance with their involvement.

Before the provision, student-athletes under scholarship were allotted three meals a day, so it isn’t like they were necessarily starving, but a stringent schedule makes it nearly impossible for any of them to obtain a means of income.

A routine in-season schedule requires the student-athletes to train with his or her team every weekday, sometimes twice a day, on top of strength and conditioning and meetings/film sessions.

Add those hours to a full-time class schedule, away games that can require traveling thousands of miles to various destinations – often in the same week – and any semblance of a social life, and the student-athlete is lucky to find a moment to ponder the meaning of existence.

To be clear, I don’t speak from experience, but I have tremendous respect for the work ethic I’ve witnessed Utah Valley athletes embody.

For too long, the NCAA has attempted to deprave student-athletes of basic rights. If a basketball player’s mother wants to treat her son’s teammate to a meal, how can that possibly violate justified legislation?

It won’t, hopefully, any longer. It conflicts with an absurdly designed system, sometimes not all that dissimilar – in its extremes, like the prior food rule – to a lesser version of serfdom.

The council’s approval still has to be made final by the Board of Directors on April 24, however, it feels like an old-fashioned way of doing things is finally opening up to change.

Does this mean financial compensation outside of the scholarships that take care of tuition, and leave little left over, is around the corner?

Probably not, but it’s a step in the right direction. If a university, or league, is going to profit off the likeness and efforts of its student-athletes, I am of the opinion that the individual doing the work on the court should see a cut of the profit.

The idea that someone should be subjugated by an unforgiving code of laws, without the benefit of the proceeds made from his or her work, is to me, inherently corrupt.

That is why I hope, with improved optimism, that these new stipulations help usher in an era of evolving rights awarded to the student-athlete.

For what it’s worth, that the NCAA did see fit to reduce the penalty for testing positive for street drugs, such as marijuana, to a half season rather than a full season.

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