Scene: an NCAA Final Four in the not-too-distant future. It's past tip-off time for the first semifinal game, but the players have refused to take the floor. We now switch to one of the locker rooms, where a team captain is engaged in a heated conversation with an NCAA official.
Player: We're not going out there until we talk about rights.
NCAA: Rights? Good subject. CBS is paying $143 million a year for the rights to televise this NCAA tournament, so if you fellows will kindly take the floor....
Player: No. I'm talking about our rights as athletes or, more accurately, our lack of rights. This has been building up for years, this feeling players have that we're almost an afterthought in the big business of college sports.
NCAA: Nonsense. You guys are the reason we're all here.
Player: Precisely. But we're not always treated that way. For instance, nearly every pencil pusher from the NCAA and its member conferences is at the Final Four, partying and having a great time. But do you know who's not here? My parents and the parents of a lot of players like me, that's who, people who can't afford the plane fares and hotel expenses. At the 1992 Final Four in Minneapolis, two Cincinnati players didn't have a single relative in the crowd. Why is it that the NCAA, which makes that $143 million you mentioned in TV rights plus a lot of other income from the tournament, won't pay to bring two family members of each player on the Final Four teams to the tournament? What would it cost? About the same as one party for reporters, coaches, college administrators and all the other people whose livelihoods depend on the players?
NCAA: We'll appoint a committee to consider it, O.K.? Now, can we get started? The CBS announcers can't stall much longer. How long can the nation watch Billy Packer and Jim Nantz play H-O-R-S-E, for crying out loud? It's getting ugly.
Player: We're not finished.
NCAA: Why do we have to talk about this now?
Player: Because this is the only time we can be sure you'll listen to us. Players' grievances tend to be ignored by the NCAA because we're temporary, replaceable parts. More often than not, we keep our complaints to ourselves, figuring, Why should we start fights we won't be around to finish? The only power we have is the power not to play.