The author of "The Shame of College Sports" responds to criticism from Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis
Sports Illustrated columnist Seth Davis has posted a piece on SI.com tagged "Rebutting Taylor Branch." Let me respond briefly. First, here are links to the full text on both sides: my article earlier this month in The Atlantic, "The Shame of College Sports," and his criticism of it on Wednesday. Interested readers can compare them fully for context.
I wish Davis's post had offered a space as commonly allotted for direct comment, and I offer him a reciprocal opportunity on this site to clarify and narrow our disagreements. Transparent dialogue can reduce the waste of straw arguments and mischaracterization.
We agree on one stark reality well stated by him: "There is no movement—none—within the actual governing structure of the NCAA to professionalize college athletes." We also agree that sports departments lose money now at nearly every college, and that relatively few could afford to pay any athletes if allowed to do so.
The nub of our dispute is over the general terms of service for college athletes. Davis says I overlook the fact that athletes are paid already with scholarship packages, while I say these in-kind benefits beg the fundamental question of whether the colleges and the athletes should be free to bargain for more or less.