NCAA ‘March Madness’: ‘This whole system seems fundamentally flawed’

As a brief summary of the NCAA, John Oliver says: “This whole system seems fundamentally flawed”

As a brief summary of the NCAA, John Oliver says: “This whole system seems fundamentally flawed” | Screen grab/YouTube

By TONY SEED

(March 19) – On Sunday afternoon in Toronto, the Carleton Ravens extended what is likely the most under-appreciated and little known dynasty in Canadian sport. The men’s basketball team obliterated an over-matched opponent to win the national title for the fifth year in a row — and for the 11th time in school history.

Most Canadian sports fans could not name a single player on the roster. That is understandable, considering the blackout of university and amateur sport by the powerful sports media monopolies. It may still be the case – it used to be – that the Canadian universities (CIS) had to fork over $50,000 and up what used to be Score TV just to broadcast three games – the two semi-finals on Saturday night and the finals on Sunday afternoon – and get some Canadian national airtime.

This week, the American NCAA will begin its own men’s basketball tournament. It has a slightly larger reach. You might have heard of it. They call it March Madness.

The Canadian sports media climb all over it.

It has been known to generate some money.

That is at the core of this scorching 20-minute video from comedian John Oliver, who is emerging as a controversial essayist on complex issues in the United States and beyond. As a brief summary of the NCAA, he says: “This whole system seems fundamentally flawed.”

“There is nothing inherently wrong with a sporting tournament making huge amounts of money,” Oliver says. “But there is something slightly troubling about a billion-dollar sports enterprise where the athletes are not paid a penny.”

Mark Emmert, president of the NCAA, appeared in three short clips, each showing him repeating the notion that the athletes are not employees, but students.

“The only other people who say ‘they’re not employees’ that much are people who run illegal sweatshops out of their basements,” Oliver says.

With a file from the National Post

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