Utah Sports Ruckus follow-up: Separate sports from school, Part 2

By Nate Gagon

For the Deseret News

Published: Thursday, April 10 2014 6:15 p.m. MDT

Essentially what I am saying in my column is that no one in our country, not a university student or any other taxpaying citizen, should be required to pay even a single cent to fund athletics if they don’t want to — by means of tuition or in any other way.

If university students, other supporters of a university, or even business organizations want to donate money voluntarily to support an athletics program, then they should have that opportunity if there is enough total support to sustain it.

And if it is truly what students and communities want, then they will fund it voluntarily.

Athletic programs with ties to a university should be stand-alone organizations, however. Universities should not provide “scholarships” or other compensation to athletes. The independent athletic program could offer tuition reimbursement for athletes if it had the funding, and certainly professional sports organizations could offer contracted athletes this benefit as well.

Again, all the details cannot possibly be outlined in this column.

Some people brought up the point that if there is going to be a separation of sports and school, this should apply to other areas like performing arts as well.

I totally agree.

This is not about sports or being anti-sports. It is about being pro-America and pro-education. All extracurricular programs should be treated equally.

Concept 3: Professional sports organizations should be able to sign athletes to contracts as soon as they are of legal age to sign such agreements

It’s time for the land of the free to stop trying to force gifted young athletes to go to college if they don’t want to. More often than not. it just wastes people’s time.

Here’s an analogy many Deseret News readers can probably relate to. Trying to force or bribe a kid to go to college is like trying to force or bribe a kid to go on a Mormon mission. Yes, maybe one time out of 10 a kid that didn’t want to go gets out there and sees the light, but the other nine times it just causes multiple problems for multiple people.

The decision to attend college should be exactly that — a decision. As parents or leaders we can and should encourage kids to do things we believe are in their best interest, like go to college or serve a mission if that’s what we believe in, but we shouldn’t try to force or bribe them to do so.

Should most people go to college? Absolutely. But it’s not the end-all be-all. Sometimes people don’t go to college and they end up succeeding in life.

And, again, it has nothing to do with playing sports.

Young adults in America should have the ability to make money through sports without going to college. If people have skills that someone out there is willing to offer them money for, they should have the option to accept the offer and move forward on their chosen career path.

I believe the potential could be there for professional sports leagues to partner with these independent “athletic programs” with university affiliations (using the university name, campus facilities, etc.) to help provide options for a structured “minor league” experience for young athletes and to encourage education.

Athletes in these athletic programs could be paid by anyone willing to pay them, whether through a professional sports organization or public donations to the program.

Some kids would make a whole lot more than others, and some might not get paid at all. Welcome to life, kids.

Concept 4: Whatever space is left open in people’s lives by the changes proposed will quickly be filled by something else

I think the majority of sports fans, both college and pro, would largely be unaffected by the changes I propose.

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