Originally Posted by improbus
I wonder why we cling to the idea of amateurism so dearly?
A lot of people don't. I grew up in Kentucky, and as far as many people in the state are concerned, the "University" part of UK is irrelevant. May as well be the State of Kentucky Wildcats. Those people wouldn't care if the players were hired guns. Don't take that as singling out Kentucky, it's the same pretty much everywhere else.
Yet for many others, and I count myself among them, college sports are what they are because they involve, well, college. Real students playing, etc., all of the traditions surrounding the sports and all that. Even though it ultimately doesn't matter what a bunch of 20-year-olds running around on a football field do and I understand the absurdity big-time college sports have become, I'm connected to my alma mater in a way I can never be to a professional team, even one I've followed my whole life like the Reds.
That's why I can't see them ever going to a purely professional model, or having an athletic trade school completely separate from the actual university, as some have suggested over the years. Personally, I'm not hung up on strict amateurism but I draw the line when it comes to them being real students. Divorce the college from college athletics and something will be irretrievably lost.