If anyone doubted that college athletes in football and basketball are professionals and should be paid, a story out of Baton Rouge, La., will convince them.
The Louisiana State basketball team recently worked out especially for the National Basketball Association. Scouts from 28 of 30 NBA teams attended, taking notes and jabbing at their cell phones with scouting reports. NBA scouts were drawn to LSU because it has three players this season expected to be on an NBA team next season.
Designated NBA practices on college campuses are a growing trend, New York Times sports writer Marc Tracy wrote recently.
Kentucky, a powerful college basketball team that recruits three freshmen each year who will be first-round draft picks for NBA teams, holds recruiting pro practices for showing on ESPNU.
The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, basketball team, which revealed its professional credentials decades ago, will hold a practice especially designed for an NBA scouting combine.
Highly skilled college freshmen expect to play for the pros after just one National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball season.
Coach John Calipari of Kentucky used this bizarre college rule to reach the NCAA Final Four every year since 2010. It has produced 18 first-round NBA draft choices in those five years.
The one-and-done phenomenon shatters any pretense of college amateurism.
SANDERS URGES POSTAL BANKING
Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democrat from Vermont and candidate for president, urges the U.S. Postal Service to return to a role it once played as a bank.
Sanders described the current problem to Felix Salmon of Fusion magazine: “If you are a low-income person it is difficult to find normal banking. Banks don’t want you. Low-incomers are forced to go to payday lenders who charge outrageously high interest rates. They go to check-cashing places that rip them off. “
Postal banking means keeping savings accounts and cashing checks. It’s common in Europe and Asia. Just seven percent of national postal systems don’t serve as banks.
President William Howard Taft got Congress in 1910 to pass his proposal for post offices to provide banking services, especially for immigrants and the poor. The system lasted until 1967. America, the Land of Ugly Capitalism, prefers usurious rates to human decency.
ROBIN HOOD TAX
A national movement has organized to back the Robin Hood Tax bill of Senator Sanders calling for a miniscule levy on Wall Street transactions. The bill would lay a 0.5 percent tax on each stock trade, generating $350 billion annually for the federal government.
The measure has the backing of Nobel Prize economists Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman but unfortunately not of the Senate Finance Committee.
The committee should listen to Sanders. The bill is aimed at politicians who demand balancing budgets on the backs of working people with cries of “municipal frugality” and “shared sacrifice.”
Martin Macias, writing in Truthout, calls those yelps hypocrisy. Corporations should be taxed more heavily than the 99 percent suffer, he points out.
Advocates of the Robin Hood Tax recently shut down Chicago’s financial center, demanding a financial transaction levy that could generate $10 billion annual revenue for Illinois, a state facing a $5 billion deficit.
Forty-one people were arrested after they blocked entrances to the Chicago Board of Trade building. “What is America going to be?” they chanted. “Corporate greed or democracy?”
Congress has long since answered that. Recently the Senate passed a bill increasing military spending $50 billion but slashing Social Security disability payments.
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)