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National Recruiting Day major part of exploitive nature of college football

Ari Russell

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(USA Today - Brett Davis)

I understand I’m a few days late driving a rant towards the impurity of major college athletics, but I needed a few days to gather my thoughts. Unless you have been living in some hidden anti-zombie bunker recently, you ought to know that Wednesday was National Signing Day for college football. Now this year it was a little different as they have opened up the recruiting process allowing for recruits to sign their national letters of intent starting in December. That said it didn’t stop the overtly egregious media coverage on Wednesday.

Perhaps the biggest drama occurred at WR Jacob Copeland’s announcement which was televised nationally, which I’ll get to in a second. But by now you are likely up to speed as to what happened.

Now the whole hat ordeal wasn’t anything new, it’s kind of a little game the recruits get to play with the different hats. It was Copeland’s mother’s reaction that was the story. I was joking that she was probably worried that she would have to return whatever gifts Nick Saban gave her to try to woo her son to Bama. Obviously I have zero evidence to make the charge or any inside information proving this assertion, but it isn’t too far fetched.

Recruiting has become a gigantic industry within the college football landscape. It’s the lifeblood of all programs and it’s the part of the sport that is 24/7/365. Taking a day off could mean missing out on a major prospect that could make a major difference on said program.

I don’t have to explain to entire process to the audience on this site. Everyone understands the importance of recruiting. It’s so important that was once obscurely covered where you would find out who went wear when a fax came through with a list of names, now has dozens of websites, radio shows, TV programs, podcasts, web series that covers recruiting every single day of the year. Look it’s popular we understand, but what it has become is yet another example of gross exploitation of young mostly African American males.

Hey Ari why do you have to make this about race?

Duh because the overwhelming majority of the nation’s top recruits are black  Be my guest and be cognitive dissonant, and also be complicit in the exploitation.

I’m not going to sit here however and wax with some righteous indignation. I have been covering college sports for a long time, for over two decades now. My hands are as bloody as anyone else in this game. However recruiting and it’s excessive coverage has always been something that has made me feel really dirty just talking about it.

The Copeland clip is just an example of how ridiculous this all is. There is no reason for these young men to receive all this attention and prestige. Not saying their skill and accomplishments aren’t deserving of praise, it’s just they are parading these young people out only to throw them into a system which isn’t giving them their fair share of the cut.

Coaches these days are making several million dollars a year. TV contracts are out of this world, however not a dime goes to the kids. That said, there is a lot of money that flies around during the recruiting process. If you think suitcases of money and other monetary transactions aren’t happening on a daily basis you’re living with your head in your rear end.

A lot of these young people have handlers these days for the various youth leagues and camps they attend. Those guys are going to need a cut. You have the apparel companies that are out here trying to get school contracts to outfit the kids, those guys are going to want a cut. Then you have the families, many come from working class or from abject poverty that of course are looking for their cut. Often the young people involved don’t end up with much. Maybe a car, which title will be transferred over with car note after said recruit has a tragic injury or just plain old repossessed.

Now I know those looking to maintain the status quo are going to be talking about how the scholarship is the worthy transaction and so valuable you can’t even quantify it. Indeed this may be the case. But these folks aren’t going to the school for that scholarship. It’s the money they generate for the University at large is what brings them to the school. The fact you can’t quantify the value of the college diploma is really part of the whole scam. I didn’t even get into the physical toll football plays on the body. These kids don’t even get medical coverage once they leave school despite sacrificing their body for the school. Again tell me what a college diploma does for managing chronic pain or worse CTE. This isn’t exactly proper treatment, but I digress.

It all begins with the recruiting process though. That’s were the seeds of exploitation are planted. I do not blame Jacob Copeland, or did I think his mother did anything wrong. I’m not out here blasting them. It’s just that TV moment really exposed the problem with the hypocrisy and ridiculous nature of recruiting. I wish nothing but the best for Copeland and his family, he seems like a nice young man. I’m just concerned whether he’s aware he’s about to be tossed into the machine and is a mere expendable pawn. I would be more than happy to blow up this exploitive system so Copeland and his family can directly benefit for his talents. Until then I’ll just use this platform when I can to fight for justice for these young people.

Born in the Nation’s Capital, Washington D.C., Ari Russell watched the rise of the 1980’s Miami Hurricanes and knew that he had to be part of the “U” someday. After graduating from Coral Gables, Ari rose through the ranks of the former XM Satellite Radio and then Sirius/XM as college football executive producer. He later spent 2 seasons as the publisher of the website “Beyond U Sports” focusing on major college football/basketball. Ari brings a great perspective on everything Miami, including the Dolphins to F.F.I.

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