GOP Senator Wants New Taxes, But Don't Worry It's Just For Black Kids
Note from the Editrix: If you're a Deadspin reader looking for new digs after yesterday's fuckery, Wonkette too also hardly ever writes about sports. Welcome!
The NCAA announced yesterday that it would permit student-athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness, as if they were common citizens. This is long overdue. NCAA revenue reached $1 billion during the 2016-2017 school year. College football and basketball coaches are the highest-paid public employees in most states, and the students people actually pay to see throw around the sports ball are the no-est paid.
North Carolina Senator Richard Burr wasn't pleased with this news. He plans to introduce legislation that would treat college athletes' scholarships as "income" if they choose to "cash in" on their own likenesses. (The students still don't get paid.)
Burr is a Republican, so it's shocking he was even physically capable of typing the word "taxes." He voted for the GOP tax scam bill that gutted the estate tax and offered much-needed tax relief for struggling private jet owners. This is what he said after the 2017 tax bill was passed in the dead of night.
BURR: For far too long, our tax system has been a burden to the millions of middle-class class citizens that make up a majority of this country. This tax overhaul starts to get the government out of your pockets, and puts Main Street in the driver's seat of the economy, not Washington.
Academic and sports scholarships are merit based. A student's financial situation doesn't disqualify them. That's why a broke-ass kid with decent grades isn't the starting quarterback for the Oregon Ducks. It's absurd to treat a scholarship as "income" because it's non-fungible. There are restrictions on how you can spend the money. McDonald's doesn't tell you what to do with your Happy Meal earnings. College athletes also work close to full time hours and travel extensively. I just had to maintain a "B" average to keep my scholarship. I received an actual paycheck for my college internship at a newspaper, and there was little risk of suffering a career-ending reporting injury before I graduated.
Like most Republicans, Burr sings a song of sadness for all the mom and pop businesses and family farms that would shutter because of the estate tax. He's never proposed an exemption for the people who "cash in" on their family names their entire "working" lives. Kylie Jenner wouldn't starve if she was taxed heavily on what she inherited when her parents died.
Last month, California Governor and future president Gavin Newsom signed legislation banning schools in the state from treating college athletes like sharecroppers. They can accept compensation from advertisers and hire agents. That seems the bare minimum but Burr still wants to tax student athletes like they're American colonists.
In Burr's home state, compensation for college coaches increased 39.1 percent in the past five years. University of North Carolina paid $13.6 million in coaching salaries, benefits and bonuses during the 2017-2018 fiscal year. Burr was sent to Washington DC to keep those guys from paying taxes. He wouldn't have his seat for long if he proposed new ways to tax them.
The racial imbalance in college sports has long been a concern. Most of the coaches who have their own personal money bins are white. But the players, who barely get a Coke and a smile, are black. It's highly unlikely America would ever tolerate the reverse situation.
Clemson University Coach Dabo Swinney signed a 10-year, $92 million contract this April. He must be filming Star Wars movies down there. The median household income in Clemson is $33,632 compared to the US average of $53,482. The estimated total cost of a four-year degree at Clemson is $170,697. That's what Burr believes is fair, taxable compensation for student athletes (plus all the Big Macs they can eat). I think the senator fears a seismic shift in the economic power structure more than he loves the free market.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle.