This year March Madness feels less fun for those of us who closely follow college basketball. The FBI investigations, the drama with UCLA in China, and the ongoing debate about whether college players should get paid has taken some of the fun out of the season. The issues are not mutually exclusive, rather they are in fact interconnected with one another. College basketball generates billions of dollars each year in television revenue, ticket sales, and merchandise. The players receive scholarships, but not much more. If the players were allowed to receive compensation, a lot of the mischief could be avoided. On the other hand, if college players got paid, how would that be managed? Would the top players make more money like they do in the NBA? Would schools have salary caps? The complexity would likely be more difficult than most advocates anticipate. I don’t think college players should get paid, but I do believe that kids who are good enough for professional ball should be able to go straight to the pros out of high school. If you choose to go to college then you are subject to the rules. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to play. It’s not a perfect solution, but I think it is where things will eventually end up.
The NFL markets its brand as well as any enterprise in the world. I heard a comedian once say that the NFL is so popular, it has its own day. NFL football is huge. Each NFL franchise brings in approximately $400M a year in revenue; almost double the annual revenue of NBA teams and 2 ½ times as much as MLB clubs.