Pay to Play


This book advances the debate about paying “student” athletes in big-time college sports by directly addressing the red-hot role of race in college sports. It concludes by suggesting a remedy to positively transform college sports.

Top-tier college sports are extremely profitable. Despite the billions of dollars involved in the amateur sports industrial complex, none winds up in the hands of the athletes. The controversies surrounding whether colleges and universities should pay athletes to compete on these educational institutions’ behalf is longstanding and coincides with the rise of the black athlete at predominately white colleges and universities. Pay to Play: Race and the Perils of the College Sports Industrial Complex takes a hard look at historical and contemporary efforts to control sports participation and compensation for black athletes in amateur sports in general, and in big-time college sports programs, in particular.

The book begins with background on the history of amateur athletics in America, including the forced separation of black and white athletes. Subsequent sections examine subjects such as the integration of college sports and the use of black athletes to sell everything from fast food to shoes, and argues that college athletes must receive adequate compensation for their labor. The book concludes by discussing recent efforts by college athletes to unionize and control their likenesses, presenting a provocative remedy for transforming big-time college sports as we know it.