Solid points, and I do see where you are coming from. I don't think I was totally clear what I meant when I said I think some football players "get a raw deal." I'll explain better as I respond to your points.
I think the players get a pretty good deal for their labor.
Overall, probably so. At the end of the day, if you look at the amount of money JFF brought to A&M, its hard to argue his scholarship was commensurate compensation. I understand guys like him, Reggie Bush, Vince Young, etc are outliers, but my beef isn't as much about them not being paid directly by their university/NCAA. But why can't they profit off of their celebrity if a third party wants to pay them for, lets say, autographs or a club appearance? Why is that any of the NCAA's business? Especially when they are capitalizing off of #5 USC jerseys or #2 A&M jerseys. Thats what I mean by some getting a raw deal.
I mean, yes, technically its voluntary. But practically speaking, its not really if you want to pursue a career in pro football. You'd have a better argument if we were talking about college basketball since those guys could just play pro in Europe for a yr until they are eligible for the draft. It doesn't work that way in fball. Its "voluntary" just like certain internships are "voluntary" for those pursuing a career in law or residency is "voluntary" for MDs.
Schools really don't benefit that much from athletics.
True, but FTR I'm limiting my argument to fball, not athletics as a whole.
I'd much rather players be allowed to pursue merchandising opportunities and endorsements than get direct pay for play.
Totally agree here
The value of their education probably exceeds what many Americans make for working.
True, but one could argue the amount of work they do to get that schollie and maintain it is more than what many Americans go through on a day-to-day basis. It's not like they are getting this money and then sitting on their asses all day (theoretically speaking).