Last week I posted a response to Canelli’s response to an article about a for-profit private school that aimed to churn out football prospects. I was unimpressed by the idea of such a school and felt the reaction to the school was more interesting and said a lot more about how we treated young athletes in this country. Then, later that afternoon, Regressing (one of the Gawker/Deadspin sites) posted this article: Why Daily Fantasy Is Such A Problem For The NCAA. The scam the NCAA thinks it’s perpetuating isn’t long for this world. The punchline from the article:
The dilemma of Daily Fantasy Sports for the NCAA and the FBS conferences is that it cuts through a lot of the gauzy mythos behind the product. This is a commercial sports product that fans consume much as they do other commercial sports products. Many of those fans like to make fantasy rosters using salary caps and allocating different dollar values to different athletes based on their perceived skill. Many fans also enjoy analysis of how well those teams will do against Las Vegas lines, over/unders, or other form of conventional gambling. The reasons that the college sports’ producers don’t like the emergence of daily fantasy is because it shows how clearly the “amateurism” distinction doesn’t matter. No one is selling a daily fantasy game based on GPAs. No one is selling a daily fantasy game based on going-pro-in-something-other-than-sports.
Daily Fantasy is the stark reality that College Sports are, first and foremost, Sports. Yes, they involve collegians, and yes the identity of their team as a college may matter, but their commercial appeal is driven by sports things. Any given alum of a D3 school probably loves his/her alma mater as much as a fan of an FBS school, but somehow the FBS schools sell more tickets. The popularity of Daily Fantasy for college sports is one more rub on the increasingly threadbare claim that people won’t watch college sports if we treat them like we do professional sports. We do, and they will, and the rest is just those making money providing convenient excuses for why they should keep it.
When there’s so much money at stake in collegiate sports (much more now that daily fantasy has emerged these past couple of years), why should anybody be shocked at the existence of a for-profit private school dedicated to football? It’s a natural evolutionary development. Europe has had it for decades, and we’re just now coming to it, albeit from a slightly different direction. (Kind of like flight developing in birds and bats separately.) It’s only the hypocritical view of collegiate and high school athletics that keeps Americans from realizing all this.