Thursday, March 31, 2005

Can The Cartel Defeat The Economics?

With Final Four week-end almost upon us, it's time to ask how much longer the NCAA--the country's most successful exploiter of young black men--can continue to deny economic reality.

Pressure is growing (from, of all places, the state of Washington) to relax the rules against allowing college athletes to earn money from their notoriety. Witness the high school phenom, Martell Webster:

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — He opened the night banking a straight-on three, quickly followed that with a tip-in and a downy three from the corner. In the first minute-and-a-half of the McDonald's All-American game, Seattle Prep's Martell Webster had eight points for the West team, which lost 115-110.

....It was the kind of performance that fuels the rumors, that ignites the conversations and excited the hundred or so NBA scouts who watched him at Tuesday's closed practice and at last night's game.

Martell Webster is the real deal.

You watch him against the best of the best and imagine a season, just one season, at [the University of] Washington. Think about what he could do for the program and selfishly imagine what it would be like to watch him for 30-plus college games.

Webster is one of three Washington state high school basketball players who could opt to go directly to the NBA. As his friend Marvin Williams could have done last year. Instead, Williams chose to take North Carolina's scholarship offer, and will be one of that team's stars in this week-end's NCAA Final Four tournament. Williams is widely expected to announce he's turning pro after the tournament concludes.

It's merely a matter of money. Not only does the cartel not pay their employees who put the fans in the seats and the eyeballs in front of the television (they do pay, of course, themselves, the coaches and administrators), but they won't allow them to capitalize on their fame by working as greeters at athletic shoe stores or pizza parlors. Nor to sign shoe contracts with manufacturers like Nike.

As a result, the colleges are losing the best players to the NBA. Will pride goeth before the fall, or will the monopolist finally realize that Joseph Schumpeter had a point when he said, the only way for a monopolist to remain a monopolist, is to not act like a monopolist.

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