Texas’ QB is living a dream. That doesn’t entail he’s not being exploited, or that he’s wrong for pointing it out.
Sam Ehlinger’s not the first and won’t be the last college athlete to point out the inherent unfairness in his sport’s economic system.
He’ll get more attention than most, though, because he’s the quarterback at Texas, which exemplifies college football’s reality a huge-money athletic more than probably any other school. That’s part of why I have written the blog post you’re reading now.
Here’s what Ehlinger just said about the subject, to the extreme indignation of a particular subset of sports fan on the internet.
He tweeted this analogy …
Within this internship, you risk your short-term and long-term health on a daily basis. You suffer this internship with less than a 2% chance to advance in your industry and obtain a full-time paid job.
— Sam Ehlinger (@ sehlinger3) March 7, 2019
… and backed a congressional bill that, if passed and upheld, would require the NCAA to fell rules barring players from getting paid off their own names:
Don’t get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to get an incredible degree and play the athletic I love at such a prestigious University. I am extremely blessed.
— Sam Ehlinger (@ sehlinger3) March 8, 2019
There are fair debates to have about the logistics of paying college athletes.
Some examples of things that seem fair to ask, in my opinion: Who should do the paying? Do players in every athletic get paid? Does every player on the team get paid the same sum? What competitive balance restrictions get put into place? How do you make sure player pay policies conform to Title IX and any other relevant laws?
But please do not say that the quarterback at the University of Texas is compensated somewhat by a scholarship, room, committee, and good coaching.
Here’s how one weirdly aggrieved person is a response to Ehlinger’s tweets. I’m use this example because it tracks with the same arguments mad people make any time a player( or someone else) dares to advocate for a fairer system:
Education? Food? Lodging? Opportunity to promote yourself nationally?
The nerve of those bastards!
Scroll around the replies to Ehlinger’s tweets, and you’ll watch lots of that theme. You’ll ensure the same any time someone with a big enough platform says something similar.
Being a college athlete, especially a Power 5 QB at a legacy program like Ehlinger is, plainly carries many great things. So do lots of other jobs. But that’s not the point, just like it’s not the phase when some regular person likes their chore but still feels exploited at it. Perhaps you’ve felt like that before. I definitely have.
Anyway, here’s what Ehlinger and his teammates help produce for Texas every year:
Around $37 million from the Big 12, which get that fund from broadcast partners. Some of that comes from basketball, and a smidgen from other sports, but the bulk of any big conference’s media deal — especially the Big 12 ’s — is derived from football. About another $15 million from ESPN for the right to run the Longhorn Network, a Tv channel devoted only to Texas. Again, that’s not all football. Only one or two football games per year actually go on the channel. But the football program has driven Texas’ brand to the heights where it could get a cash cow like LHN in the first place. Millions more in ticket sales, direct expenditures to watch athletes play. Bowl payouts in the seven figures, coming via the Big 12( but Texas’ players add to that pot whenever they make a bowl, such as the Sugar after the 2018 season ). More in merchandise marketings, concession sales at games, and miscellany.
In 2016 -1 7, Texas reported more athletic revenue than any school in the country, more than $214 million. It will eternally stay near the top, and football will stay the biggest driver.
There’s a lot nobody can know for sure about Ehlinger’s place in that system.
Starting here: What’s Ehlinger’s real value to Texas?
It’s impossible to be precise. These bargains were put in place before his time, and he has lots of teammates. No individual player drives Tv bargains.
Still, Ehlinger’s a starring of a highly expensive show that airs 13 or 14 days a year. Together, the players do drive those bargains, and Ehlinger’s front and center.
So, what’s his fair value? Let’s just say: a lot.
I don’t know what the true value of a Texas scholarship, room, and committee is.
According to UT’s math, the cost is about $28,000 per year for an in-state student like Ehlinger , not counting summertime, when athletes are often on campus anyway.
Of course, it doesn’t actually expensed a school that much to host a student. Ehlinger’s scholarship doesn’t genuinely cost UT even the $11,000 or so it would expense him to pay for tuition for a year if he weren’t on scholarship. That’s unless the school’s literally out of space to host a paying student in his place, and there’s no evidence that’s the suit.
I also don’t know what the true value of being coached by Tom Herman and his staff, dedicated nice accommodations, and great trainers is.
It varies by player. There are some who develop a ton in college and then cash out big in the NFL. That’s not most of them, and Ehlinger’s a former four-star recruit who could’ve get relatively similar coaching at a lot of places.
And I don’t “know what youre talking about”, precisely, that weighs against the medical danger football players face, or the likelihood they’ll never watch NFL dollars.
Ehlinger alludes to both. Again, they vary by player. Ehlinger’s not just talking about himself, though he’s a great example of the unfairnes at work.
But I don’t need to know any of these things to know if I were the one of the most important figures at the center of a multimillion-dollar amusement business, and I did not get paid actual fund for it, I’d be miffed too.
My guess is the people leaving Ehlinger confrontational responds would also be mad. But if anyone out there has ever been a central figure in a business that generates something like $50 million per year just in Tv fund and also not been paid for it, please email me or comment below. It would be lovely to hear your narrative.
Read more: sbnation.com