Strictly for the Ballerz

Updated: July 9, 2014

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

I wrote this poem as part of my book, “Quick and Dirty Secrets of College Success.”  In case you don’t know, I’m not a big fan of the NCAA.   The NCAA earns more ad revenue than nearly every other professional sports league, but for some reason, has never felt the need to share that money with the athletes themselves.  Making matters even worse, the NCAA also restricts the rights of athletes to go into the community and earn money from their brands, as was evidenced by a recent case where a player at Texas A&M was punished for signing autographs and being paid for his own name.

bAs an educator, a black man and a Finance professor, I can tell you that this business model is fundamentally wrong and unethical.  The African American community loses at least a billion dollars per year when our most valuable economic assets are forced to work in an industry that should be punished for violating every anti-trust and labor law imaginable.  As an educator, I have seen young athletes in revenue-generating sports taken out of class or being forced to change their majors so that it fits their football schedule.  As a Finance professor, I can tell you that there’s nothing wrong with making money.  But if one person is making money from someone else’s labor and then explaining why this money should not be shared, that’s a problem.

When I appeared on a CBS Sports special asking whether or not college athletes could be paid, the hypocrisy was clear:  CBS, who signed a multi-billion dollar TV rights deal with the NCAA, appeared to be putting out the special primarily as propaganda.  I noticed that while I was the lone voice of dissent, the other men on the air:  Bill Packer, Clark Kellogg, Mike Krzyzewski, etc. were all earning millions from the labor of college athletes.  If the athletes’ families are forced to be broke, then all of the commentators, coaches and administrators should be broke as well.

Recent lawsuits continue to increase the likelihood that this professional sports league is going to be busted up by the courts and forced to offer labor rights to college athletes.  I recently had a conversation with Dr. Richard Southall of the College Sport Research Institute, who is in agreement that there may be major changes in the way athletes and their families are treated.

Below is a fun poem I did about 10 years ago to illustrate NCAA hypocrisy.  It’s part of my book, “Quick and Dirty Secrets of College Success:  A Professor Tells It All.”  I’ve seen the story played out a thousand times, and it’s important that we warn our talented boys before they become victims of a system that is designed to exploit them. 

STRICTLY FOR THE BALLAZ – by Dr. Boyce Watkins

The balla on campus has now just arrived.

I'll sign all your footballs for 9.95.
The cheerleaders and honeys all treat me real nice
My coach calls me “The Messiah”, just like Jesus Christ
My head may be swollen, like a big blimp.
But I deserve all these props cause I'm such a big pimp.
They even told me "don't worry bout class"
As they shake my hand softly and fill it with cash.
My hummer is blingin, with TVs in the back.
My 24s spinning, like my nickname was Shaq.
My diamonds are placed in my radio clock.
My system be boomin from way down the block.
The fellas get jealous as I roll through the spot.
Them fools always scheming to get what I got.
My girl is so tight, as she sits in my ride.
But she's not as tight as my girls on the side.
My greatness rivals the angels above
They treat me so special, this has got to be love!
About game number 5, I jump for a pass
And this 6 foot 5 brother knocks me right on my a**.
I leap from the tackle, "Man, you didn't hurt me!"
But I fall back to the ground, with a crunch in my knee.
The doctor says to me as I swell up with tears
"This might be the end of your football career”
Now that I can no longer jump for the ball.
The coach that once loved me ain't returning my calls.
I once got the line "Your tuition is paid"
I now get the line "Did you try financial aid?”
My girls on the side done got kind of rude.
They look at me funny, not stuttin me dude.
As I watch my gold hummer get towed down the street.
All I can do is stare at my feet
I then see the joke, and I was the b**t.
The coach didn’t love me, man I was his s**t*!
While they lined my pocket with a few hundred bucks.
Their dollars were delivered by flat bed trucks.
Did you ever take a second to think?
Why the coach's wife shows up to games wearing mink?
While my mama is slaving as somebody's cook.
Thinking her baby's off hitting the books.
She goes Greyhound on game day, so her back is in pain.
The coach and his wife came by private plane.
One hit, then pow! I'm in a chair with steel wheels.
I bet the coach's son will never know how that feels.
As the athletic department decides on my fate.
They then figure out that I am only dead weight.
No paper in hand, I'm shipped back to the hood.
I can't pay for college, man I'll be home for good
I sit on the corner, as the summer heat steams.
I live in the bottle to wash away broken dreams.
Rather than getting calls from scouts, fans and coaches.
I'm in my mama’s crib, with mice, rats and roaches.
I once was defined by my strength and my speed.
But I now realize that wasn't all that I need.
What would I change if I could press rewind?
I would work a lot harder to strengthen my mind.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is the author of the lecture series, “The 8 Principles of Black Male Empowerment.”  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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