I turned in the final version of In Defense of Uncle Tom: Why Blacks Must Police Racial Loyalty on February 7th. I’m really happy with it and I think many will be interested to read it. Cambridge University Press will publish it in Sep./Oct., I think. I’ll be talking more about it then.
Now I’m turning my attention to my next book project Like Blacks after Slavery: How the NCAA Reproduced the Economic Exploitation of the Jim Crow South (working title; not sure it's any good).
As the title implies, I want to draw parallels between various Jim Crow era laws/economic regulations/norms—anti-enticement statutes, emigrant agent laws, inability to participate in the making of rules, lack of full due process, inability to participate in unions etc. –and NCAA regulations. I think similarities abound.
It’s all very fluid right now. But, I think my basic thesis will be as follows.
The NCAA and its member schools, like the Jim Crow South, fueled by solidarity (school solidarity vs white solidarity), colluded to install regulations (Jim Crow era economic laws/norms vs NCAA regulations) that enabled them to economically exploit a class of individuals. The NCAA created the designation “student-athlete” and a surrounding mythology that caused to people excuse the various ways in which the NCAA prevents collegiate athletes from participating fully in the free market system. The Jim Crow south targeted blacks, and because of racism, many excused the various ways the South prevented blacks from participating fully in the free market system.
Forbidding agents from talking to college football players is fine; they’re “student athletes.” Stopping agents from coming into the South to hire black workers is fine; they’re “black.”
Of course, life for blacks in the Jim Crow south was far worse than that experienced by college athletes. But I think the economic exploitation models between the two are quite similar and viewing it through this prism reveals the immorality flowing through the veins of NCAA. Also, I want to argue against the slavery analogy commonly deployed by scholars and average folk alike. It's inapt and many reject it summarily. And thus, I think the analogy often hurts, rather than helps, the cause of college athletes.