Schwartz: The Rug Seen ‘Round The World

April 4, 2019

Written by David Schwartz

Instead of being faux outraged at Southern Cal athletic director and former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann for earning money to sign autographs, perhaps the college sports universe can instead focus on its members who aren’t allowed to sign their names for money.

By now you either know the drill or you won’t get it: the NCAA shouldn’t pay its athletes, but its athletes should be allowed to make money off their own names: sign autographs, shake hands at a restaurant opening, film a Buffalo Wild Wings commercial. 

Yet here we are, again, arguing the same points, again, after Swann did nothing wrong and Iowa basketball player Jordan Bohannon tweeted the greatest tweet in the history of tweets:

This, of course, brought out the usual uninformed response that Bohannon was somehow ungrateful for his scholarship because he wants to make money I guess? I don’t know. The ungrateful argument doesn’t make any sense to me, either. (Here’s an example. Here’s another example. Here’s another example. Here’s another example. Here’s another example. Here’s another example.)

All this led to another wonderful tweet by Bohannon that oozed disingenuousness. The only thing missing from this tweet was the preface: “The following tweet has been approved and audited by the University of Iowa”:

This is the NCAA smackdown I never knew I needed. First the Wall Street Journal writes a fun story about branded NCAA apparel and other swag disappearing, then of all people JORDAN BOHANNON, a Hawkeye, tweets a joke/non-joke with the rug pic, then longtime advocate for the rights of college athletes Jay Bilas weighs in, then NBA player and former Wisconsin Badger Frank Kaminsky is like “Hell yeah we took stuff.”

It’s all so beautiful. And what made it even sweeter was that just a couple of weeks ago the NCAA got all twitchy because someone posted an old NCAA tweet out of context that boasted about providing free wi-fi to student athletes. 

The Lynn Swann episode is a false-flag operation, or at the very least a misguided attempt to highlight the hypocrisy of the NCAA and stick up for college players who are denied the opportunity to fully commodify themselves. This isn’t about Swann and it never has been.

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This is an opportunity to support the players, not by taking away earning potential from a Super Bowl-winning, Hall of Fame player, but from allowing college players the potential to legally, ethically, and contractually earn what they can.

There’s not a single logical argument one can make against that point, but when it comes to the NCAA, logic is in short supply.

* Talk with David Schwartz on Twitter @daveschwartz.

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