Every year in March, the men’s NCAA basketball tournament reigns supreme for 3 weeks. It’s complete basketball madness, hence the NCAA rebranding a few years ago to call the tournament March Madness. This three-week tournament period is a billion-dollar windfall for the NCAA, and the television networks generate 1.3 billion during this time for broadcasting March Madness. It’s a win for the NCAA, the networks, the schools, and the fans; however, is it a win for the players?
Most of the players are scholarship athletes and receive very little compensation (meal money) for their efforts. Some will argue that they receive a free education, and that should be enough. I would argue that due to the demands of Division 1 basketball, which includes March Madness, the players have very little time to study. As a result, they must take a reduced course load and go to summer school. In effect, after studying and working out all summer, they have no time to work or intern to help prepare themselves for a future without basketball. Of the players who participate in March Madness, 98% will not go on to play in the NBA.
As I sit and watch every game and monitor my pool results, I feel that something needs to be done for the athletes. I am not necessarily advocating pay for play; however, the beauty of the tournament is that everyone is engaged to make the event a success. When I look back at my experience, our company was at its strongest when everyone from ownership to management to employees was engaged in our mission. On top of that, our successful clients have positive engagement in their organizations. At Sumus, we work with you to engage your employees, and more importantly, advise on how to maintain and enhance engagement for long term success. Perhaps the NCAA needs to hire Sumus. My fear is the players will disengage at some point.