Empathy can’t begin until we stop denying athletes’ rights
Andy Schwarz (@andyhre)

It seems like you and I are disagreeing about cause and effect here. I could not agree more with everything you’re saying about the current state of the NCAA and the many ways in which it denies athletes their rights. However, I don’t believe that simply offering a sound argument for why things should be a certain way will necessarily catalyze change (and in this model, bring about the empathy I describe). That impulse needs to come from somewhere and it’s frequently the result of a shift in public opinion. For this to happen, there needs to be a some mechanism for the average fan to start thinking differently. I’m merely suggesting that basic empathy might be that starting point. I don’t think I’m being overly optimistic here. If anything, I’m pessimistic—if this is the avenue for change then obviously it hasn’t taken hold yet. But we simply don’t live in a country where you can convince people that huge institutions must be reformed by appealing to their most reasonable selves. To make the public acknowledge that rights are being violated, they first need to care about college athletes as people. They need to be reached on an emotional level first. That’s why I brought it all back to empathy.