Pay to Play

Race and the Perils of the College Sports Industrial Complex

by Lori Latrice Martin, PhD, Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner, PhD, and Nicholas D. Hartlep, PhD


College athletes in high-revenue sports are part of a billion-dollar amateur sports industrial complex. Should they share the profits they produce?

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Cover image for Pay to Play

March 2017


Pages 207
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Race and Ethnicity/General
  Popular Culture/Sports, Recreation, and Leisure

This book advances the debate about paying "student" athletes in big-time college sports by directly addressing the red-hot role of race in college sports. It concludes by suggesting a remedy to positively transform college sports.

Top-tier college sports are extremely profitable. Despite the billions of dollars involved in the amateur sports industrial complex, none winds up in the hands of the athletes. The controversies surrounding whether colleges and universities should pay athletes to compete on these educational institutions' behalf is longstanding and coincides with the rise of the black athlete at predominately white colleges and universities. Pay to Play: Race and the Perils of the College Sports Industrial Complex takes a hard look at historical and contemporary efforts to control sports participation and compensation for black athletes in amateur sports in general, and in big-time college sports programs, in particular.

The book begins with background on the history of amateur athletics in America, including the forced separation of black and white athletes. Subsequent sections examine subjects such as the integration of college sports and the use of black athletes to sell everything from fast food to shoes, and argue that college athletes must receive adequate compensation for their labor. The book concludes by discussing recent efforts by college athletes to unionize and control their likenesses, presenting a provocative remedy for transforming big-time college sport as we know it.


  • Examines the longstanding controversy regarding whether colleges must "pay to play" when it comes to being competitive in high-profile sports and how this debate intersects with perceptions of race
  • Suggests a remedy for transforming big-time college sports that can simultaneously benefit colleges and universities, non-revenue generating sports, elite college athletes, and professional sports teams
  • Presents provocative and insightful information for scholars and students in the fields of sociology, kinesiology, education, gender studies, black history, sports management, urban studies, communications, and labor relations as well as for current athletes, former athletes, and fans of college sports
Author Info

Lori Latrice Martin, PhD, is associate professor of sociology and African and African American studies at Louisiana State University. Her published works include Praeger's White Sports/Black Sports: Racial Disparities in Athletic Programs.

Kenneth J. Fasching-Varner, PhD, is Shirley B. Barton Endowed Associate Professor in the College of Human Sciences and Education at Louisiana State University. His published works include Occupying the Academy: Just How Important Is Diversity Work in Higher Education? and Working through Whiteness: Examining White Racial Identity and Profession with Pre-Service Teachers.

Nicholas D. Hartlep, PhD, is assistant professor of urban education at Metropolitan State University, St. Paul, MN. His published works include The Assaults on Communities of Color: Exploring the Realities of Race-Based Violence. Hartlep has received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from Winona State University and the University Research Initiative (URI) award from Illinois State University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Chapter 1: Amateur Athletes and the American Way Chapter 2: Creation of the Amateur Athlete in America Chapter 3: Racial Segregation and Amateur Athletics Chapter 4: Rise of the Black Male Athlete at Predominately White Colleges and Universities Chapter 5: Commodification of Black Bodies Chapter 6: Current Controversies: An Analysis of the Northwestern and O'Bannon Cases Chapter 7: Pay to Play: The Case for Compensation Chapter 8: Rules for Transforming Amateur Athletics Appendix Notes Bibliography Index



" A particularly strong and new argument is the authors' linking of black male athletes in "high-revenue-generating" college sports to the controversy over paying college athletes. . . . Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above; researchers and faculty."Choice

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Other Titles of Interest

White Sports/Black Sports cover imageOut of Bounds cover imageThe Sports Industry's War on Athletes cover image
The Strange Career of the Black Athlete cover imageEconomics of College Sports cover imageSex Segregation in Sports cover image

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