College athletics has a humble beginning.
Yale University fielded the first college sports team when they formed a boat club in 1843. A year later, Harvard University formed their own boat club.
The Ivy League schools eventually competed against each other.
Since then, the landscape of college sports has changed drastically.
American culture reveres its athletes. Depending on what an athlete achieves, it doesn't matter to the public if they are amateur or professional.
Whether it is the colleges, the athletes, professional sports leagues, boosters, parents or the press, everyone seems to have a role in what college sports is today.
When way back when, the NCAA and their members, the top tier colleges and universities, brokered TV, radio and merchandise deals. The also brokered their own deals by creating athletic conferences. Some of those conferences are known today as the Big Ten, Big East and the Southeastern Conference.
Today, college sports are a multi-billion dollar industry.
Each group plays a pivotal role in sustaining the overall myth. The myth is seems to be that sports are more important than all of the problems going on in our country. In some areas of the country, sports are placed on a pedestal. It seems to be more important than education, poverty or any other systemic issues. However, everyone involved is complicit. That goes for the people watching on TV. For the people watching those games, the NCAA provides a distraction. Once the games are over, the problems one may have are still there.
Even though society tells that education is much more important than sports, we are taught the opposite. We live in a day and age where we can name the starting lineup of the Chicago Bulls more so than we can name our senators, congressmen or alderman.
Jacques Ellul's definition of propaganda is in line with what the aforementioned groups involved with athletics want to achieve:
Propaganda is a set of methods employed by an organized group that wants to bring about an active or passive participation in its actions of a mass of individuals, psychologically unified through psychological manipulation and incorporated in an organization.
The college athletes with professional aspirations see how much the professionals make. Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose went to college for only one year. Within a year of graduating from high school, he became a millionaire several times over by signing an NBA contract. College athletes see that. They see a person like Rose who was handsomely compensated for his efforts. They want that for themselves.
College athletics is a temptation to young people who are from adverse backgrounds. Some of the people who believe in that premise think that sports is a means to an end. When that happens, education ends up on the backburner.
For people who come from modest backgrounds, financial aid is the only way they can afford college. Scholarships or student loans are the key. Here in America, the belief that you go to college, find a job, and get married doesn't resonate like it used to. Many people who finish college these days are saddled with debt. That is the reason why most college athletes, especially the ones who don't have aspirations to play professionally, were willing to believe in the propaganda the NCAA along with interested parties, distributes to the masses.
The NCAA, along with the press and advertising agencies, uses TV, radio, phone applications and social media to influence a certain way of thinking.
Most of these kids engage in a barter system when it comes to college sports. A student-athlete exchanges his or her time and effort for a scholarship. According to a study written by the College Athletes Players Association and Drexel University called, The $6 Billion Heist: Robbing College Athletes Under the Guise of Amateurism , student-athletes enter an agreement that isn't as binding as it used to be:
Under this new arrangement, athletes were vulnerable to losing their scholarships for a variety of reasons such as the inability to produce because of injury, failure to perform as desired on the field, and/or a change in coaching staff or coaching philosophy. In effect, the athletic scholarship became a tool in controlling player behavior, movement, and value.
During the NCAA basketball tournament, a banner was shown all throughout every game that said "Celebrate Student Athletes." The NCAA loves to portray students who play college sports as student-athletes. The press is often the main mechanism in spreading the NCAA propaganda. The press used to berate college athletes who drop out of school to play a professional sport. So many of them in the revenue-generating sports of football and men's basketball drop out on an annual basis that media members no longer criticize them for doing so.
Everyone involved with college athletics, whether it is the students, coaches or administrators, seems to have their own view on what the future will bring.
Due to all of the revenue the students bring in through athletics, the term "student-athlete" may cease to exist.