March Madness: America’s Unofficial Event
By Cheval John
As for those who might believe that they is nothing much to do in Huntsville, they will have to look deeper.
For starters, Huntsville is located just an hour north of the fourth largest city in the United States, Houston.
In reality, the small town is approximately 20 minutes from the Houston metropolitan area.
So for those who might want to see something different while living in Huntsville, they can just drive down to the Houston area.
Another thing that makes Huntsville unique is Sam Houston State University(SHSU) because a college campus is a “city” within a city.
And in any city or town, sports gives anyone the opportunity to be entertained for two hours or three hours if it is baseball, basketball or football.
The city of Huntsville can never be a home to a professional sports team because of the costs of having a stadium and a strong fan base.
The city of Houston has four professional sports teams because they have the infrastructure to provide the demands of what these organizations are looking for.
Case in point, the professional athlete making millions of dollars.
That is where collegiate athletics comes in for a small town.
The universities has to take care of their own departments.
And since collegiate athletics are under the umbrella of the universities, the places that these universities are based in don’t have to worry about the cost.
Which brings me back to Sam Houston State.
SHSU has 17 sports teams that competes at the NCAA Division I level.
And since the NCAA Division I level is as elite as professional athletes, Huntsville residents can see an elite level of competition that they would see at a major professional sports event.
I was fortunate to have covered the SHSU baseball team while they got three at-large bids to the NCAA tournament after winning three consecutive Southland Conference (SLC) regular season championships.
For any mid-major school, if you don’t win the respective conference post-season tournament, you will not get an at-large bid to any NCAA tournament.
I also had the opportunity to cover SHSU’s 2012–13 women basketball team that won their first ever SLC regular season title and finished as a runner-up in the SLC’s post-season tournament.
From the experience of covering SHSU’s sports teams, I will offer my answer to the question, “Are You Being Exploited By March Madness.”
I will have to say that I am conflicted to a large degree about the NCAA.
Beforehand, I would have disagree completely with the premise that college athletes are getting exploited by the NCAA because of the premise that they are going to school for free based on the scholarships that they are getting to play for their respective universities while the rest of the college student body have to pay a whole lot of money for classes and books in order to attend college.
However, I had a change of heart about the fact that the NCAA has taken advantage of the so-called “student-athlete” because they know that they don’t have to pay these same college students who are athletes due to the fact that they are college students.
I have always wondered why college athletics has been so huge in the United States like the major professional sports growing up.
I mean it is part of the student experience in college to participate in a sporting event.
The history of college sports in America is what makes the United States a unique country to live in.
At the same time, I feel a little disgusted by the fact that the NCAA and college coaches in the major universities are making millions of dollars while the same college athletes are not getting a single cent from the revenue that they are making.
Case in point, the NCAA are currently in their 14 year deal worth about 11 billion dollars with CBS.
The powers that be over the NCAA are being more profitable than ever.
The sad part is that the majority of college athletes come from low income families.
It is true that they get meals and “free tuition” due to scholarship.
But the fact that they can’t receive help from friends who can provide some funds while they are in college due to the fact that they might commit an NCAA violation.
This tells about the garbage rules that the NCAA has instituted and it feels to me at times that they want these college athletes to remain poor while they are attending college.
At the same time, these same college athletes should get a whole lot more compensation for the amount of money that the NCAA are making.
One thing that they can do is not make the scholarship a one year deal, but make it for the entire four years so that the college athlete will not have to feel the extreme pressure of succeeding on the field as well as in the classroom.