The Tragedy of Commercialism in College Sports Essay

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The Tragedy of Commercialism in College Sports

Over the past 25 years, ESPN has become the master when it comes to marketing college basketball. They're the professionals of this amateur game. Earlier this spring ESPN and its spinoffs ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN Classic aired a record 97 conference tournament men's basketball games over an eight day period, including 16 games broadcast from 10 different locations on March 12 (Hiestand). For fans of the sport ESPN has become a college hoops haven. CBS may garner the most attention for its $6 billion 11-year contract, which gives the network exclusive broadcasting rights for the season-ending men's NCAA tournament, but it is ESPN, which is responsible for the game's dramatic rise in
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ESPN has made superstars out of college basketball coaches and even TV analysts like Dick Vitale. The station has created national followings for some of the sports elite programs. Want to watch Duke? Just flip on ESPN or ESPN2, where the Blue Devils had 16 of their regular-season games televised last season (Timmermann). The relationship that ESPN has forged with college basketball is both symbiotic and parasitic. The mutual benefit is obvious; ESPN has successfully launched itself as a primer cable sports network and thanks to the network, college basketball has become one of the most profitable collegiate sports, rivaling the once invincible college football. But ESPN has built its empire off the labor of unpaid college athletes. The increasing dollar-amount of TV contracts and growing commercialism in college basketball is proof that ESPN is willing to exploit amateur athletes in the name of increasing profit margins. With no other network and no other sport is this symbiotic and parasitic relationship between media and college athletics made more apparent.

In today's media saturated culture, sports' programming has become a big business. The sporting industry, with annual revenues of over $100