Under Cover: Library Lecture Shines Light on College Sports

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indenturedWith Valentine’s Day having just passed, I’m sure there are more than a few of us who have been hit with a case of the “inequivalent gift blues.”

Perhaps your loving husband brought you a little blue box, and you gave him some store-bought sugar cookies? A night at Nobu met with a bag of Valentine m&ms?

Whatever the case may be, if this was the year that your significant other hooked you up, and you, well, didn’t, the library of all places may just have the ticket to your redemption.

That is, if said significant other happens to be a sports fan.

On Friday and Saturday, March 3 and 4, well-known business and sports writer, Joe Nocera will be appearing at the Central Library, in the latest installment of the Witte Lecture Series. Set to discuss his most recent book, “Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA,” Nocera will be shining a light on the NCAA, its athletes, and the controversy over whether or not scholarships are adequate compensation for the driving force in a multi-million dollar industry.

Fellow journalist and writer Don McNay says of Nocera’s writing, “Joe can take mundane nonfiction topics and keep you glued to them like a novel. He goes back to the historic roots of the topic and allows you to see how a situation and story evolved.”

While the ongoing saga that is the NCAA and its relationship with college athletes can hardly be called mundane, that seems to be exactly what Nocera, and his co-author, Ben Strauss, have done in “Indentured.”

As the title infers, there is a large contingent that believes the teens and young adults who power college athletics are nothing more than a group of indentured servants. They are seen as a group of individuals generating staggering income for the college sports machine, through use of their physical skill, and often at risk to their physical well-being, while being subject to a lengthy list of strict regulations, and prohibited from gaining financially from their efforts, outside of a scholarship.

Joe Nocera
Joe Nocera

Conversely, there are many who feel that the opportunity to attend a school they may not have otherwise qualified for, and obtain a higher education, is compensation enough. They contend it is only the elite few who are losing the opportunity to further profit from the use of their likeness, and that the great majority are more than happy to exchange their physical contributions for an education, room and board, and the opportunity to pursue their athletic goals.

As a parent of a Division 1 athlete who is fortunate to be attending school on a full scholarship, I must admit that I tend to fall into the latter camp. While there are problems with the NCAA and how regulations are implemented and enforced, I feel that in exchange for physical prowess, he is being given an opportunity to improve himself in ways much more far-reaching than anything he may accomplish on the field.

That being said, the only way to truly showcase the full spectrum of the story is by speaking to those who have lived it. To that end, “Indentured” tells the human story of the NCAA, by chronicling everyone from players and coaches, to universities, lawyers, and union organizers, in a timeline that spans from the 1950s until present day.

We see how the organization has evolved over the years, who has profited, and who was exploited, as well as how major names in college sports, like UCLA’s Ed O’Bannon have changed the current NCAA landscape.

In short, the book, and Nocera’s lecture, is sure to cover everything the college sports loving love of your life could ever want to know on the topic.

Tickets to the event are $35 for Saturday afternoon, or $50 for Friday evening, with a five dollar discount available for foundation members both days. As always, $20 discount tickets are also available for teachers and students.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit nbplfoundation.org.

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