College Sports Can Be Exploitive. They Can Also Be a Lifeline.

I am not a fan of such restrictions.

In 1984 with the help of Arthur AsheI attended the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida. My first roommate was Andre Agassi, then the best 14 year old player in the world, who hit every ball with a clean weight that I had never seen before. Two years later, this zippy teenager turned pro. You know the rest.

But this is tennis, a sport in which players aged 14 and over can play professionally. It is of course also a Sport is known for its whiteness and wealth. Desiring to control opportunities in sports dominated by black athletes, harnessing the black workforce and skills is a whole different business.

It’s fair to worry about what profound changes would be for NCAA sports. What if we give star players more freedom, allow them to earn what they’re worth, and provide health and safety to all athletes? The collegial powers that predict the fate of the entire company. Don’t buy it. Fate was also foretold when the sports departments were forced to follow Title IX in order to finally give women’s teams equal opportunities.

Real transformation is more than warranted right now, but it makes sense to proceed with caution. With all the shortcomings in the college model of athletics, there is an advantage of experience that is sometimes overlooked by those looking to put a hammer into the system.

Playing a sport so important to life in most locations can keep an athlete strong for not just a few years but for decades. I felt this upswing in a powerful way when I switched from tennis to the world of work. The combination of cal tennis on my résumé and alumni watching me play didn’t hurt.

Years later, when I return to the Berkeley campus, I am still reminded and supported. I speak to the team. Retired professors come and remember days when the stands were full for Stanford and UCLA games. Our 1989 national indoor championship trophy has been on display for a long time.

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