Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey announced Monday morning on Twitter that he’d be skipping the team’s Dec. 30 appearance in the Sun Bowl to begin preparing for the NFL Draft:
McCaffrey is an electric player who was considered a favorite to win the Heisman Trophy entering this season. After a 2015 in which he set an NCAA record for all-purpose yardage, his production slipped this year – but he still led the nation in all-purpose yards for the second straight year.
He’s a lock to be playing on Sunday next year, and with the Sun Bowl being a meaningless exhibition game, McCaffrey is making the right decision for his future.
The common refrain you’ll hear is that McCaffrey “owes it to his teammates” to play in the game, which is a great deflection from the truth that this situation would be avoided entirely if college athletes were compensated for their efforts.
For all the romanticism of “amateur” sports, I have yet to hear an argument against paying players that addresses where all the money should go.
Big-time college football is a billion-dollar industry; that’s not going to change. By advocating that the players deserve none of the revenue, you’re saying that the athletic directors, coaches and television executives (basically, anyone but the actual laborers) are more deserving, which is an odd hill to die on.
The money doesn’t have to go directly to the players, but that doesn’t mean it belongs in the pocket of a head coach to gets paid comfortably to berate free labor.
McCaffrey made the right move, and the only shame here is the lengths people are willing to go to defend the NCAA’s exploitation of their athletes.