Maybe Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston should change his major to business. Because it’s obvious that the 2013 Heisman Trophy winner doesn’t fully understand economics — and he doesn’t comprehend the manner in which the billion-dollar machine that is college football is screwing him.
As explained by John Taylor of CFT, Winston opened the ACC Media Days by launching into a passionate defense of simply getting room, board, and tuition in return for helping his college and its conference and, ultimately, NCAA Incorporated generate far more value that he’ll ever realize.
“It’s very important to me,” Winston said. “I was always raised as a student first and an athlete second. . . .
“I think that’s the main purpose in college. Some athletes lose that perspective. It’s about being a student-athlete, and not just getting that easy money and going to the league. Even if kids leave early, I would want them to come back and get that degree. . . .
“We’re blessed to get a free education . . . and that’s enough for me.”
It shouldn’t be. Winston’s talents and physical sacrifices generate revenue that isn’t being fairly shared with him, thanks to a system that quite possibly violates federal antitrust laws by allowing the various colleges to hide behind an artificial limitation on what an athlete can receive in return for his efforts.
Maybe Winston is simply accepting the fact that nothing will change in time for him to get any of the money, which means there’s no reason to complain about something that ultimately won’t matter. But if that mindset prompts Winston to remain at Florida State after 2014 at a time when the NFL is ready to make him one of the top picks in the 2015 draft, he’ll be making a huge mistake.
Most if not all kids go to college to develop marketable skills. Winston’s most marketable skills flow from his physical talents. The longer he plays college football, the greater the chance those skills will be diminished by serious injury. If/when the window opens for Winston or any other college player to be compensated for his abilities, the business savvy that would flow from a free education points to the unmistakable conclusion of getting paid now and finishing the education later.
Until then, Winston is unwittingly giving Florida State and the rest of the college system even greater value by aiding the process of influencing other kids to continue to get far less than they deserve for the services they are providing. If, after all, a free education is good enough for Jameis Winston, it should be good enough for them, too.