Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Supreme Court Rulings: N.C.A.A., Student Speech and Gay Parents

To the Editor:

Re “College Athletes Cannot Be Denied Pay” (front page, June 22):

The N.C.A.A.’s argument against paying the athletes — that paying the athletes would sully their amateur “student athletes” standing, and, besides, they already are compensated with a college education worth thousands of dollars — is breathtakingly dishonest.

Any first-year economics student will tell you that a payment is a payment, whether it be in cash or in services (such as a college education). To paraphrase an old joke, the N.C.A.A. has already admitted that the players are professionals. Now they’re just haggling over price.

Stephen Sander
West Chester, Pa.

To the Editor:

I am a 17-year-old who loves college football. Over the years, I’ve spent time with players from my favorite team. What I’ve observed is that college football is essentially a full-time job. Instead of calling them “student-athletes,” we should call them “athlete-students.”

If we want to preserve the amateur status of college athletes, let’s go back to treating them like students first. For example, in football, let’s return to an 11-game schedule with one bowl game (if you qualify), play games only on Saturdays so players don’t have to miss classes, and get rid of “mandatory” captain’s practices and summer workouts that craftily evade N.C.A.A. practice limitations.

Will the N.C.A.A. consider such steps and risk losing millions in revenue? Probably not. Then the only alternative is to pay the players. You can’t call them amateurs while treating them as professionals. The N.C.A.A. can’t have it both ways.

Liam Chandra
Atherton, Calif.

To the Editor:

Hypothetical: I am a brilliant graduate student working for a brilliant professor who is developing a new biotech wonder drug. The drug is approved by the F.D.A. and the university is set to receive millions of dollars in royalties. Am I entitled to a portion of those royalties?

In my opinion, the answer is a clear no.

No one should go to university for the primary purpose of making money for their in-school work, whether in STEM disciplines or sports. The priority should always be on educational advancement. And only payments related to education are OK (such as tuition and room and board).

What the student does after college and how much money he makes from his athletic accomplishments is entirely up to him. But no matter how much remuneration the N.C.A.A. and the university receive, the student’s focus should always be on education.

Bruce Sheiman
New York

To the Editor:

The Supreme Court ruling on the compensation of N.C.A.A. athletes exposes a serious flaw in the large bureaucratic organization of which my institution is a member. It was only a matter of time before the court correctly ruled in favor of athletes who have been denied compensation in pre-professional Division I.

On the other hand, while 357 Division I schools operate under a revenue-generating model, there are 441 Division III institutions operating under amateur rules where no athletic scholarships are granted and colleges earn very little income.

The problem with Division I institutions is that their primary goal is to generate huge amounts of money while not paying athletes under the premise that their tuition, room and board represent equitable compensation.

The N.C.A.A. generates more than $1 billion annually, the vast majority of which derives from the television contracts for March Madness. Approximately 3 percent of that goes to Division III schools, where true amateurs play and where being a student athlete means being a student first.

Division III institutions should strongly consider separately incorporating under the N.C.A.A. umbrella to maintain true amateurism in collegiate athletics. Division III athletes play for the love of the game, not for the chance to win the coveted professional league lottery. Our athletes aspire to use their degrees beyond the court, the field or the ice. We have a duty to help them develop into leaders who are not jaded by the almighty dollar.

Steven R. DiSalvo
Beverly, Mass.
The writer is president of Endicott College and vice chair of the Commonwealth Coast Conference.

To the Editor:

I remember when my editor at the University of Washington Daily handed me an envelope one day, and I asked, “What’s this?” He replied, to my astonishment, “Your pay.”

Decades later, athletes working for the school community can be paid as well. It’s about time.

Joelle Keene
Los Angeles

To the Editor:

Re “Justices Rein In Schools’ Power to Limit Speech” (front page, June 24):

Two observations on this Supreme Court decision. First, I don’t understand why the court agreed to hear the case to begin with. The Supreme Court receives over 7,000 petitions each year, and hears between 100 and 150 cases. Granting certiorari to hear an appeal when the student’s First Amendment right to flip the bird and use a vulgar word was affirmed in the lower appellate court just does not seem to rise to the level of other pressing legal matters. What an extraordinary waste of the scarce resources of the Supreme Court.

Second, while I agree with the decision, I feel sorry for the plaintiff. The wide publicity may come back to haunt her when she is applying for jobs.

Her parents did her a disservice by bringing this lawsuit in the first place. They missed an opportunity to teach her that vulgar words and petty, immature actions have consequences. While the Levys may have won the lawsuit, it may be at a big cost to their daughter’s social growth and moral development.

Mary Ann Lynch
Cape Elizabeth, Maine

To the Editor:

Shock. I agree with Justice Clarence Thomas, who dissented in the case. As soon as a cellphone message shows up on phones to 250 “friends,” many of whom no doubt were in the school building, it becomes school business. That is my opinion as a teacher. Perhaps the Supreme Court members are too old to realize the damage that technology has wrought.

Emily Farrell
Media, Pa.

To the Editor:

Re “Two Cheers for a Free Speech Ruling,” by Justin Driver (Opinion guest essay, June 25):

While it is a victory for free speech, this is not a victory for civilized behavior. Brandi Levy’s extremely vulgar temper tantrum in a Snapchat message has no place in civilized society and has no redeeming value like a political opinion. She was simply allowed to be disgusting, rude and vulgar because the law protected it.

That her parents would not simply reprimand her for her disgusting behavior, apologize and move on says a lot about where we now are as a society. Civil discourse does not seem to have an important place. We are willing to defend the worst impulses using the law. And I am as progressive as they come.

Michael McElfresh
Livermore, Calif.

To the Editor:

Re “Court Supports Catholic Agency in Dispute on Gay Foster Parents” (front page, June 18):

The Supreme Court decision regarding a Catholic foster care agency’s refusal to screen same-sex couples for adoptions does not end the issue; it merely moves the goal post. The court’s decision hinged on Philadelphia’s contract with the agency, which forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation but allows city officials to make exceptions. As a result of the court’s decision, youngsters needing placement are now systematically denied access to potentially solid, beneficial placements.

The ball is now back in Philadelphia’s court: Future contracts need to disallow spending public tax dollars on agencies that practice discrimination. Period. No exceptions.

Stephen E. Phillips
St. Petersburg, Fla.

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