Black athletes prop up white coaches’ enormous salaries

University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Monday. (Vasha Hunt/ via Associated Press)

The Sept. 1 Sports article “Incomes and outcomes,” about University of Alabama football and the team’s coaches, exposed the university’s values and the role of big-time athletics in college generally. It is appalling.

The article didn’t address race. About 26 percent of the population of Alabama is African American; about 11 percent of the students at the University of Alabama are African American; about 80 percent of the starters on the 2017 football team are African American. Think about that picture. The head coach, Nick Saban, the highest-paid employee on campus, is paid more than $11 million annually. The next three highest-paid individuals at the university are assistant coaches. They are all white. The football players aren’t paid, even though it is they who win the games and risk their lives and health, including exposing themselves to concussions.

Do the coaches at Alabama, whose status and lavish paychecks are propped up by African American young men, care about the injustice and advocate paying the players? They do not, at least not openly. Mr. Saban grudgingly acknowledges that paying players is an “issue,” and he would pay them if the rules required him to do that. Whether those rules change, he says, is “someone else’s decision.” This stance is repugnant, especially when one considers the nonsensical context that is frequently provided to justify the policies — that the players are student-athletes.

What is such lack of leadership teaching the student parts of those football players?

Harold Sigall, Columbia

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