Wednesday November 12th, 2014

NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote about the exploitation of college athletes in an article published in Jacobin magazine.

Abdul-Jabbar, 67, has been outspoken in his conviction that college athletes should be paid.

In the article, titled College Athletes of the World, Unite, Abdul-Jabbar writes that "nothing much has changed" since he was a basketball player at UCLA in the 1960s, when he felt that he was being exploited and was "always too broke to do much but study, practice and play."

Life for student-athletes is no longer the quaint Americana fantasy of the homecoming bonfire and a celebration at the malt shop. It’s big business in which everyone is making money — everyone except the eighteen to twenty-one-year-old kids who every game risk permanent career-ending injuries.

It’s the kind of injustice that just shouldn’t sit right with American workers who face similar uncertainty every day.

Abdul-Jabbar also mentions the drive to unionize college athletes, a topic he has previously written about, as well as the injunction issued in the Ed O'Bannon case over college athletes' names, images and likenesses.

The NCAA’s power is further eroding thanks to the push to unionize college athletes, a necessary step in securing a living wage in the future. Without the power of collective bargaining, student-athletes will have no leverage in negotiating for fair treatment. History has proven that management will not be motivated to do the right thing just because it’s right. Unions aren’t all perfect, but they have done more to bring about equal opportunities and break down class barriers than any other institution. [...]

The August decision by a federal judge to issue an injunction against NCAA rules that ban athletes from earning money from the use of their names and likenesses in video games, also included television broadcasts. This in itself could do much to bring about the end of NCAA tyranny.

Abdul-Jabbar earned six NBA Most Valuable Player awards and averaged 24.6 points and 11.2 rebounds over 14 seasons with the Bucks and Lakers. He was a three-time National Player of the Year at UCLA.

- Chris Johnson

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