Wednesday, July 17, 2019
I saw a story on our local news last night that made my blood boil about the faux charity known as the NCAA. Recall that the NCAA collects and pays millions to everyone except the players. To do so, according to the argument laughingly rejected in the latest lawsuit challenging the rule against players sharing in the bounty, would destroy the alleged amateurism the NCAA is so bent on protecting. Now, I am not an enemy of the NCAA. One of my daughters is attending school on a golf scholarship, though the fact that she can play golf makes me wonder if she is really my kid because she definitely didn't inherit them skills from me. Anyway, a kid named Donald De La Haye play[ed] kicker for the University Central Florida, a school one of my other daughters attends right down the street from my home. The first remarkable thing about this story is . . . well, he is a kicker. And while kickers are important and indispensable to a winning season, they come a dime a dozen. They suit up just like everybody else but they are practically immune from getting hit by the rules of the game. That they come a dime a dozen -- most recently from the ranks of those who play football as that term is used throughout the rest of the world -- is a point of relevance discussed below.
Anyway, De La Haye has a YouTube channel that has become quite popular, with over 1.5 million subscribers. His YouTube name is "Deestroying" and his videos seem pretty routine frat boy or jock cheesy humor. Still, he has 1.5 million subscribers and counting. I haven't watched any except the one in which he announces what the NCAA is doing to him (see below). Here is an excerpt from one of our local newspapers:
Here’s a kid the NCAA ought to celebrate, living proof that college football programs don’t necessarily crank out dolts unprepared for the new economy. By his sophomore year, University of Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye’s zany football-based performance art had attracted close to 1 million YouTube subscribers. Which provided Donald with “a modest amount of income from the ad revenue.” Barely 20 years old, De La Haye, known as “Deestroying" to his followers, was an entrepreneur for the digital age. And a pretty damn good kick-off specialist to boot. Except the $14 billion-a-year cartel that controls college athletics won’t abide students cutting into the NCAA’s revenue stream. Once a kid agrees to an athletic scholarship, he must surrender economic rights to his name, to his very image. Yet there was Deestroying, pretending his face belonged to him, not the university. Rather than risk NCAA sanctions, UCF revoked his scholarship. Young De La Haye, whose family moved from Costa Rica to Port St. Lucie when he was seven, told the university that he’d stop accepting advertising revenue from his videos. Not good enough. The rules prohibit any videos “based on his athletics, reputation, prestige or ability.” All that belonged to the UCF and the NCAA.
"Every time I step into that [NCAA] compliance building, I hear nothing but bad news." That's how the kid starts explaining the unexplainable on his YouTube Channel:
The kid was actually given a choice. Take down your Youtube channel, stop earning money from your own name and face -- "that's for us to do exclusively, you know the rules!" -- or lose the scholarship. He chose to retain his personal autonomy, gave up his scholarship and left school. I am not gonna preach about Nick Saban's salary or that of many other coaches, and Athletic Directors, or the billions reaped by ESPN and the like from the charity known as the NCAA. But for data-heads who want to know, check out "Madness, Inc. How everyone is getting rich off college sports -- except the players."
To see how entertaining the student's YouTube videos can be -- and how unrelated to the NCAA's business (I used that word intentionally) they are -- check this one out:
Now about his status as a kicker. Having had my bell rung plenty of times as a kid playing football, I really don't think kickers are American football players. If anything, they are European football players in pads. But two things: first, this kid is good enough that he now plays for the Toronto Argonauts in the Canadian Football League, an outfit that does pretty much the same thing as the NCAA but doesn't pretend to be charitable or amateurish. Second, if this kid had been a 6'6 wide receiver with 4.3 speed or faster, attracting a whole buncha television viewers, you best believe the College woulda went for it on 4th and long to keep him on the team. Trust me, they would have hired that Bond Schoeneck & King, a Kansas City firm that specializes in NCAA rules, and litigated this thing til the cows came home. And that might not have been necessary. Given his star power, the NCAA would have found a way to inject some sanity into the rule; they would have come up with a waiver. He'd still be on YouTube and he would still be catching passes for UCF on ESPN TV, from which the NCAA gets paid billions. He is a good kicker, but he is just a kicker! Kickers are indispensable but they do not put butts in seats. And just what does a student-athlete's posting on YouTube have to do with the sanctity of amateur sports, except that it might cut into practice time!
Anyway, its this kind of craziness that has led to calls to yank the NCAA's tax exempt status.
Darryll K. Jones