Over the past 100 years, college sports have attracted controversy pertaining to how they should be treated, that is, as business opportunities or academic vocation. Different reforms have been initiated, with academicians and researchers coming up with different models explaining how college sports and sports people should be treated. These models seek to understand and give directions on the need for balancing education with commercialized sports. Three key conceptual models have been initiated to reform college sports by scholars such as Craughron, Benford, Smith and Gerdy (Sack, 2009). In addition, Roy, Graeff & Harman (2008) underscore that these models include the intellect elitism, the athletes’ rights and academic capitalists. These three models represent varying views pertaining to the role of commercialized college sports in today’s learning education or higher education. This understanding portends that the major focus, despite their contrasting views, is on revenue generating sports, emphasizing the increasing stakeholder’s roles, including college athletes and institutions of higher learning. However, they vary on their interpretation of the relationship that exist academic values and sports commercialization, athletic scholarships legal status and educational impact and finally on higher education’s mission.
Intellectual elitism reformers are of the view that highly commercialization of college athletics negatively affects the higher education in America, as sale of athletic programs by universities to corporate sponsors or television networks leads to the trumping of academic values by television ratings (Sack, 2009). As a result, they argue that commercialization of college athletics make universities to admit students with very low academic qualifications or credentials. Such prioritization attracts students, who care more about sports as compared to education values, which is inconsistent with the goals of higher education.
Notably, Roy, Graeff & Harman (2008) assert that academic capitalism scholars on the other hand argue that the awarding of athletic scholarships enables college athletes to improve on their academic, and that they have a democratizing effect as far as higher education is concerned. Academic capitalism notes that such scholarships help college athletes, especially women and those from minority groups to acquire an education. Sobocinski (2000) notes that close monitoring of athletes and offering them academic support can ensure college athletes to be at par academically with other students. Under this model, college athletes are viewed as amateurs who engage in sports as part of their vocation, being prepared for future careers, with sports offering real life experiences and leadership lessons pertaining to self discipline, self sacrifice and hard work among other leadership elements.
Athlete’s rights reformists argue that commercialization of college sports is part of American life, and that it should not be...