Don’t Give a Free Pass to Either NCAA or State Exploitation

The most talked about play of the college basketball season so far happened on Wednesday night as Duke’s Zion Williamson injured his knee after one of his shoes split open. It was less than a minute into the game when the star forward fell to the hardwood. Williamson was forced to leave the game against arch-rival North Carolina and did not return. Reports are that he suffered a knee sprain and is listed as “day to day.”

The build up to Wednesday night’s matchup was as intense as it has ever been in the storied rivalry. Ticket prices were rivaling that of the most recent Super Bowl. Celebrities, including former president Barack Obama, were on hand to see the contest. The reason for the hype was primarily Williamson, as the uniquely talented freshman is expected to go number one overall in this year’s NBA Draft. Alas, these high paying customers only got to see him for a short period of time before his night was over.

More than anything, this incident is shedding light on the absurdity to which college basketball conducts itself. A player who was the biggest reason for the ticket price and television ratings surge damaged his body while receiving no compensation for the revenue he was clearly responsible for. There is currently an ongoing debate within the sports media as to whether Williamson should even return to Duke’s lineup since he can’t possibly raise his draft stock any higher and could risk further injury. When the organization that a player plays under won’t allow their athletes to get paid, continuing to play under these circumstances might be too big of a risk.

One of the more interesting aspects of these opinions on Williamson’s future is how many on the political left are calling out the NCAA and questioning their unwillingness to financially compensate the athletes that comprise it. For example, The Ringer’s Roger Sherman was very critical of the current system in his latest article and lamented the situation that leads to elite athletes being exploited in this way. Sherman admitted in an NFL article he wrote back in September that he is a socialist. Yet his arguments criticizing the inability of collegiate athletes to profit off of their talent are intensely capitalistic.

The Ringer’s embrace of a socialist philosophy does not end with Sherman. The website has published numerous articles offering glowing praise of democratic socialist congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. As many of us know, she and others are in favor of dramatically raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. Many who champion her cause have cited highly taxed European nations as a model for the United States to follow.

However, if one’s disapproval of the NCAA seizing all of the revenue created by its talent is so great, then why is the seizure of wealth by the state something to celebrate? Why does the government get to limit compensation via taxation if the NCAA’s prevention of compensation is so wrong? Why do those who desire the state to seize more private wealth not see the similarities to a collegiate cartel that seizes all of that wealth? Are the government and the NCAA really that different when put into this context?

While it is true that the NCAA prevents all wealth from getting into the hands of their athletes while governments take a certain percentage (based on income bracket), it isn’t clear why a lesser degree of income extraction is so much more virtuous. After all, if total income confiscation by an entity is seen as complete exploitation or even a form of slavery by some, then at what reduced level of confiscation does one cease to be exploited or enslaved? This question conjures up Robert Nozick’s “Tale of the Slave” in which he takes the reader through nine steps of slavery conditions that gradually improve. It starts with the master collecting 100% of the slave’s wages and ends with 3/7 of his wages being taken by a less cruel ruler. But the final question is still, “at what stage do you cease being a slave?”

The current tax policy put forward by Cortez and championed by others would raise the top tax rate to 70% after the ten million dollar mark is reached. Should Williamson become the NBA superstar many predict that he will be, he will have no problem reaching this number at some point in his career. However, the label that the political left throws around so frequently as a target for scorn is the dreaded “one percent.” The threshold for arriving in this exclusive club is not 10 million dollars but actually slightly less than $450,000. If we want to trot out the Scandinavian nations that the progressives seem to be so fond of, the top tax rate (that is significantly higher than that of the US) kicks in if a worker makes only around one and a half times the national average (roughly a $70,000 a year salary in the US). Here in America, a worker has to make eight times the national average in order to be subject to a lower top level tax rate.

So no matter if politicians want to soak those who make 10 million plus, the one percent or make this country more like northern Europe, the elite of the NBA are going to take a hit. As it stands right now, Williamson and other future NBA stars in the college game are having all of the money they accumulate confiscated by a ruling entity. Once they are out from under that rule and able to profit off of their talents, the ruling entity known as the state will lay claim to a sizable portion of what they are compensated with. Just like the NCAA claims that the benefits of attending college justify its withholding of any payment to their athletes, the government will claim that the benefits it bestows on society justify any and all taxation they wish to impose. Those on the left who advocate for collegiate athlete compensation and bemoan NCAA exploitation are oblivious to how the state lays its claim to privately obtained wealth using a similar farce.

Bill Simmons’ “Ringer” Site Goes Soft on Socialism, Goes Hard After Pro-Lifers

It should be no surprise that sports writer Bill Simmons would promote the writing of those who lean to the political left. After all, the former ESPN personality did hire liberal pundit (and writer for Esquire) Charles P. Pierce for his former website “Grantland.” But since leaving ESPN, Simmons has founded a new website called “The Ringer.” Among the topics discussed are sports (of course), television, movies, music and politics. On the site’s “politics” page, no indication is made as to what viewpoint or angle they want to represent. But a quick browsing of the article headlines should make it pretty obvious as to what agenda they are trying to push.

That agenda becomes remarkably clear in two of their recent articles. One is titled “Is the Socialism Wave for Real?” It highlights the rise of socialist New York congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The other is titled “‘Roe v. Wade’ and the Ugly Future of the Movies.” It discusses the upcoming movie about the landmark case. From the articles’ titles, one could conclude a bias right off the bat. Further examining the articles makes that bias become all the more obvious.

In exploring the new “fad” of socialism, author Justin Charity describes the critics of Ocasio-Cortez as being “alarmist to a fault.” Of course, there’s no mention of any kind of alarmism that might lead someone to embrace socialism. Charity then goes on to describe this brand of socialism as “a framework in which large tax revenues support robust public services, welfare resources, and labor unions.” He makes it sound so welcoming, doesn’t he? Left out of this description is the fact that tax revenues hover around 20% of GDP regardless of tax structure, the welfare state has crippled entire generations of Americans and labor unions (contrary to what is typically taught in public schools) were not responsible for raising wages, creating a 40 hour work week or ending child labor. The harsh reality is that socialism has crushed innovation and kept droves of individuals in poverty rather than providing an escape from it.

But the “socialism” write up wasn’t the only time last month that Charity had an article with a left wing bias published by the site. Eight days earlier, he had put forward a piece discussing the upcoming pro-life movie “Roe v. Wade.” The article’s subtitle poses the question “Is a polarized country ready for far-right cinema?” Implied is the accusation that someone has to be “far right” to be pro-life or favor the overturning of Roe. Charity continues to trash the film (and by extension, the anti-abortion movement) by saying:

“The film reinforces lies that have been told over and over,” one potential investor told The Hollywood Reporter in a story published last week. “All the weird fake news about abortion is in there. All stuff that is easily debunked.” The script also includes a scene in which the birth control activist Margaret Sanger, on her deathbed, vows to “exterminate the Negro population” through legalized abortion.”

What’s going on here is a rather uncreative bait and switch. Nowhere in the article is any of this “fake news” actually cited. If it’s so easily debunked, why doesn’t Charity do so in this writing? He then describes the deathbed scene, implying that this is a complete falsehood. While this claim being made from her deathbed may be a stretch, Sanger did indeed view certain races of people as inferior and saw abortion as a way to limit the number of children those races would have. Rather than being easily debunked, Sanger’s racism is actually quite easy to prove.

So these two articles, in addition to others on The Ringer site that deal with politics, have a clear agenda and ideology that they wish to promote. But they aren’t thought provoking or objective toward politics or truth. Rather, they conveniently omit details and give flowery visions of ideologies which they are sympathetic toward but don’t actually produce their alleged results. Perhaps in the future the site can provide a more accurate assessment of the things they both agree and disagree with.