Allbritton Talks: College Sports

In the spirit of March Madness:


As more Division I athletes and their supporters call for payment for players and even consider unionizing, it raises the question of the purpose of college athletics and perhaps of institutions of higher education themselves. Is it exploitative for universities to profit off of their athletes if it is indeed to the detriment of their education, finances, and health? Are athletically-based admission and scholarships unfair – if so, for whom? – or are they a means of expanding college access and diversifying student populations?

In this session of Allbritton Talks, we will examine the controversy surrounding Division I athletics while also pondering what compels us – as a University, as a society, and even as a species – to care about sports.

Recommended reading (and viewing):

“The Shame of College Sports” by Taylor Branch
“Punting Our Future: College Athletics and Admissions” by Barbara H. Fried
“Ed O’Bannon Takes Even Stronger Stance on NCAA Player Compensation” by Maxwell Strachan
“The Myth of Parity” by Scoop Jackson
“Beyond Northwestern: Should Non-Football College Athletes by Able to Unionize?” by Josh Freedman”
“College Athletes of the World, Unite” by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The NCAA

This event is sponsored by the Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life. Please send topic suggestions to