A hallmark of life in America is sports. Sports encapsulate viewers and players alike with its ability to provide a relief from the daily struggles of life while also allowing for people to have a team or group of people to support. In the United States of America, there are two levels of competition for sports which are amateur and professional leagues. Most amateur sports take place across colleges and universities nationwide and are regulated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which is more commonly known as the NCAA. The NCAA acts as an organizational body for over 90 sports, and the organization has a vital impact in the sectors of politics, economic, and on the social life of many Americans.
To begin with, the NCAA has showcased their impact upon many aspects of the American political spectrum in a great deal of situations. A prime example of the NCAA's role in politics occurred recently in North Carolina regarding the controversial 2016 Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which is also known as HB2. A notable aspect of HB2 was its oppression against transgender individuals, and this was evident through the bill “requiring every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility to be designated for and only used by persons based on their biological sex.” The bill also “excluded gender identity and sexual orientation from local and statewide anti discrimination protections”. Many organizations were opposed to this bill, and the NCAA was one of them. In response to the legislation, the NCAA did not view North Carolina as a suitable host for basketball games any longer, and the state was stripped of its games for the opening rounds of the 2017 NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament.
The opposition to the bill after this decision from the state's citizens was massive, and according to Duke University professor Orin Starn, the NCAA's act “was the game-changer with North Carolina's bathroom bill”. North Carolina lawmakers quickly responded to their citizens' dismay as HB2 was lifted one day after the tournament's conclusion. Another example of the NCAA's power in politics occurred in 2015 regarding Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was very judgemental towards homosexual couples in the state of Indiana because it could allow a business to refuse service to them on the basis that it went against their religious liberties. This act was crucial to the NCAA because their headquarters and Hall of Champions are located in Indianapolis. After the bill was initially passed, the NCAA threatened to move out of Indiana as a response to the bill. In response, Indiana legislatures added protections for LGBT customers, businesses, and tenants as a means to protect them from potential discrimination. As a result, the NCAA decided to stay in Indiana. In both of these situations, the NCAA demonstrated the power they held over American politics.
The NCAA provides a great deal to the citizens of North Carolina and Indiana through the fanfare which their sports attract as well as the jobs and tourism that come about from their presence. In these situations, the NCAA's demonstrated their political power by acting upon their threats and forcing the states to do what they wanted them to.
The widespread power of the NCAA expands far beyond politics and is most evident through their power in the economic sector. The NCAA's greatest impact on the economy comes from the Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament, which is more commonly known in American culture as March Madness. March Madness consists of 64 teams playing in a single elimination knockout tournament to determine the one true champion. Cities which host the opening rounds of the tournament significantly benefit financially from the games. From the increased tourism and ticket sales alone, cities such as Dayton, Providence, and Philadelphia have earned between 3.5 million to 18 million on a yearly basis ever since they started hosting these games in 2001. The city which benefits the most financially from March Madness is the one which hosts the Final Four. The Final Four consists of the semifinal and championship games, and they all take place in the same location. The host city of the Final Four typically financially benefits by more than 300 million dollars as a result of these three games and all that they bring in terms of fans, advertisements, and interactive experiences. The tournament's
games typically takes place during the middle of the work week in the afternoons. As a result, many divert their attention from their work to focus on watching the games and maintain the brackets they have made for the tournament. In 2016, the career firm Challenger, Gray, & Christmas Inc. did a study on the lost productivity that occurs due to March Madness, and the lost productivity totaled over 3.9 billion dollars. March Madness' impact is very widespread, and this results in corporations and networks dedicating great deals of money to be official sponsors of the tournament. CBS and Turner Sports pay the NCAA a little over 900 million dollars per year for tournament broadcasting rights, and ad revenue from the tournament is 1.24 billion dollars. March Madness also has an impact on the beer, chicken wing, and pizza industries as there is an over 20 percent increase in the purchases of these products during March Madness. March Madness is truly a testament to the economic impact the NCAA has on America. The NCAA causes economic positives for the cities, corporations, and television networks which associate themselves with the NCAA, and this is evident through the massive revenue which comes about during March Madness. In addition, March Madness attracts the attention of so many differing Americans, which provides even more incentives for these entities to associate themselves with the NCAA as a way to market their products to a wider range of
people. The main economic benefactor of the NCAA are the schools themselves. In 2015, college athletics alone resulted in 9.15 billion dollars in revenue for 231 Division 1 schools in the NCAA. These positive revenues for the school have benefited them in ways beyond athletics as the profits which come about can be used in many ways to improve the school in regards to academics and student life as well.
Lastly, the NCAA plays a major role in the social structure of the United States of America through the many opportunities they provide to student athletes. According to a study conducted by the National College Players Association, most of the student athletes who partake in college varsity athletics grow up in impoverished situations. As a result, the NCAA provides a rare opportunity for those who have grown up in unfortunate circumstances. Through the use of scholarships for these student athletes, they have the ability to obtain a full education and a college degree to escape from this poverty. However, a social issue comes about in the sense of how these players are viewed in the eyes of the NCAA. By not paying the players for all they do for the school in regards to the marketing and recognition that the school gains from them, one can view college athletics as a modern day labor system similar to slavery. Another issue from this current system exists in how a student athlete can easily lose their scholarship due to unforeseen circumstances such as injury as well. In a similar vein, the NCAA helps promote union and less divisive environments through their system. Typically when a large group of citizens are unified in support of a team, the team can “unite the community, reduce the differences among residents, and helps improve the quality of life for all. From these examples, it is evident how the NCAA has a pivotal role in shaping the social landscape of America through the many opportunities they provide. At the same time, the NCAA has the potential to make the conditions better for those who make them as successful as they are.
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