Jan 152015
 

College sports teams generate about $6 billion in revenue for universities and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) each year. Many coaches also earn several million dollars in salaries and endorsements each year. However, the NCAA insists college athletes are amateurs and ineligible to be compensated more than the scholarships they receive. Advocates say most of these “amateur” athletes practice and train 12 months a year as well as attend school full time. Critics claim this convenient rule allows the exploitation of many young American men and women, saying other students attend universities on non-athletic scholarships and are not forced to work hard, risk serious injury or make millions for their school and the NCAA. Financial stress causes many of these young athletes to drop out of school or leave early in an attempt to play in professional leagues. Most universities do not provide health insurance to scholarship athletes, and many revoke the scholarships of those who get injured or who do not perform as well as expected. Compensation proponents say colleges should be allowed to give stipends, jobs and health insurance to these athletes. One 2010 study found the average out-of–pocket expense of colleges awarding a full scholarship to an athlete was about $3,200. It also found the fair market value of a football and basketball player at a large university was more than $120,000 and $265,000 respectively. These values more than tripled for athletes playing at top sports schools. This study also found that since athletic scholarships do not cover all student costs and many athletes do not have time for a job, at least 85% of all scholarship players are living below the poverty line. Critics also say athletes do not get paid royalties from the sale of their jerseys or for digital appearances in video games. Even after athletes have left college, the NCAA retains some of these licensing rights in perpetuity. Critics say that everyone including the NCAA, colleges, coaches, TV networks, advertisers, apparel and video game manufacturers make money off our “amateur” athletes -except the athletes themselves. However, the National Labor Relations Board has recently ruled that Northwestern University’s football players are employees and have the right to unionize, saying there is enough evidence to show these athletes are employees of the university -getting paid in the form of scholarships, working between 20 and 50 hours per week and generating millions of dollars for their schools. Also, as a result of a former UCLA basketball player’s lawsuit, the NCAA and a video game maker have recently agreed to pay players, who competed between 2005 and 2014, $60 million from revenue generated by the use of their names and images. It has yet to be decided whether players will receive a share of the revenue from the telecasts of sporting events.

Pending Legislation: None

I oppose reforming current amateur athlete compensation policy

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill requiring colleges and universities to fairly compensate scholarship athletes; provide paid health insurance; guarantee a 4-year scholarship; and allow athletes and former athletes to negotiate compensation for items marketed in their names

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is an untreatable neurodegenerative disease that is a long-term consequence of head trauma. This trauma can result from single or multiple head injuries. CTE is usually discovered only during an autopsy, making it difficult to estimate the number of athletes suffering from this disease. When examined, the brains of those who suffered CTE injuries are characterized by the degeneration of tissue and the accumulation of tau proteins. CTE has been closely tied to athletes who participate in martial arts, boxing, wrestling, rodeo riding or playing football, hockey, rugby, lacrosse and other contact sports that involve repeated brain trauma. CTE has also been found in military servicemembers who have experienced blast injuries and those suffering from old age. Individuals with CTE often show symptoms that are similar to Alzheimer’s disease such as motor skill and memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression. These symptoms can progress to Parkinsonian symptoms and usually appear years or decades after head trauma. CTE can be fatal in some cases. The NFL has agreed to a $765 million settlement with 18,000 retired players over concussion-related injuries. However, a federal judge has rejected this settlement over concerns it would not be enough to cover these injured players for the rest of their lives. Physicians say that eliminating CTE injuries from contact sports will be extremely difficult. Even though safety equipment has greatly improved over the years, doctors say it is not possible to prevent or cushion the brain from impacting the skull during contact, which can occur in training and during practices just as it does in games. They claim the cumulative effect of these injuries is also very worrisome since most adult athletes have been playing sports since their youth. Recent studies of football and hockey players who had completed a season without suffering a concussion or head trauma showed worrisome changes in brain structure and cognitive performance that weren’t shared by athletes who competed in varsity sports such as track, crew and cross-country skiing. These studies suggest that a season-long succession of small hits, none hard enough to cause disorientation or draw medical attention, may prompt changes in the brain that cause problems with memory, mood or mental performance in later years.

The NCAA allows football teams five days of full-contact practice during each week of the season. However, some schools have reduced these practices to three days a week to reduce CTE injuries. California has recently passed a law which limits full-contact practices in public and private middle and high schools to two 90-minute sessions per week during the season and preseason. It also prohibits full-contact practices during the offseason and requires a player who has sustained a concussion to be benched for at least a week. Some coaches caution that this could result in more injuries as lesser-prepared athletes take the field. Others claim that patronizing contact sport events contributes to the number of CTE injuries and that these sports should be banned for children under 18. Current CTE research is focusing on education and diagnosis of living victims and this has yielded some positive results. Recently, a new method of brain imaging has been used to reveal signs of CTE in living people. A brain-scanning technique used to identify signs of Alzheimer’s disease has been adapted to image tau proteins. Researchers say this technology could help susceptible players limit their exposure to head trauma and may lead to the development of better protective gear and treatment for CTE injuries.

Pending legislation:

S.1014 & H.R.2118 – Youth Sports Concussion Act of 2013

I oppose reforming current CTE policy and wish to defeat S.1014 & H.R.2118

I support authorizing the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to make recommendations to protective equipment manufacturers regarding whether voluntary standards should be adopted to: reduce the risk of sports-related injury for youth athletes wearing protective equipment; improve the safety of reconditioned protective equipment; and modify protective equipment warning labels; permitting the CPSC to initiate the promulgation of a consumer product safety rule if no voluntary standard is adopted within a one-year period; making it unlawful to sell or offer for sale in interstate commerce, or import into the United States for such purposes, athletic sporting equipment for which the seller or importer makes any false or misleading claim with respect to the safety benefits of such item, and wish to pass S.1014 & H.R.2118

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to limit full-contact practices in sports for youths under the age of 18

I support identifying a legislator who will sponsor a bill to ban contact sports for youths under the age of 18

 Posted by at 12:00 am
Jan 152015
 

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit entity that administers intercollegiate athletic programs for 1,200 colleges here and in Canada. The NCAA is accused of exploiting many young athletes because it reaps billions of dollars for itself and other private institutions while refusing to compensate those responsible for its success. It is said the NCAA and universities pay little to furnish the “theater, actors, lights, music and audience for a drama that is neatly measured into TV time slots. The only things the networks need to bring are their cameras and a check.” It is estimated that more than $6 billion is annually generated by university athletic programs through ticket sales, television contracts, endorsements and advertising.

However, most scholarship athletes live in poverty conditions while attending college. Often, the demands of college sports leave little time for part-time jobs or for majoring in challenging curricula. NCAA officials claim its athletes are fairly compensated with $100,000 scholarships which cover tuition, fees, room and board. Opponents disagree, saying most of these scholarships are not worth much because most universities leave athletes unprepared for post-sports careers. It has recently been discovered that for decades, in order to maintain academic eligibility, a least one major university has funneled its athletes into worthless, fraudulent classes without significant attendance, studying or grading requirements.

Other NCAA criticisms include its practice of selling ads and product endorsements featuring a player wearing a sponsor’s clothing, or being portrayed in a video game, without compensating that player. The NCAA is also criticized for its lack of due-process protections when taking disciplinary actions against athletes and schools.

Pending legislation:

H.R.2903 – National Collegiate Athletics Accountability Act

I oppose reforming current NCAA policy and wish to defeat H.R.2903

I support amending the 1965 Higher Education Act to state that in the case of an institution that has an intercollegiate athletic program, the institution will not be a member of a nonprofit athletic association unless such association: requires annual baseline concussion testing of each student athlete on the active roster of each team participating in a contact/collision sport before such student athlete may participate in any contact drills or activities; prior to enforcing any remedy for an alleged infraction or violation of the policies of such association: provide institutions and student athletes with the opportunity for a formal administrative hearing including not less than one appeal; requiring any aid provided to student athletes who play a contact/collision sport to be: guaranteed for the duration of the student athlete’s attendance at the institution, up to 4 years; irrevocable for reasons related to athletic skill or injury of the student athlete; does not have in place a policy that prohibits institutions from paying stipends to student athletes, and wish to pass H.R.2093

 Posted by at 12:00 am