200 years ago, Amos Bronson Alcott wrote, “A government, for protecting business only, is but a carcass, and soon falls by its own corruption and decay.” 200 years later, those words ring true, not only in politics, but in the government of sports as well. As the masquerade of the IOC, FIFA, and the NCAA is coming to an end, so could the end of their sports as we know them.

As media members vent to Twitter about the horrors of Sochi, I for one am overjoyed that Putin was able to buy off the IOC to give him the Olympics. Be it through stray dogs, yellow water, or non-existent doorknobs, the world is seeing the result of putting a price tag on hosting the Olympic games.

Sochi simply should not have been chosen to host the Winter Olympics. The average February temperature is 42.8°F, and the city is 180 miles away from one of the most terror-filled regions of the world in Chechnya. There was no infrastructure for not only the events, but also for the wave of travelers that come with an Olympic games.

So, how does possibly the worst candidate city in years get the Olympic games? According to former Russian Prime Minister Boris Nemstov, $38 billion of the $51 billion (more than every other Winter Olympics combined) was spent paying people off. An IOC official estimates that number closer to 1/3 of the total cost of the games.

How much money do you think is in Putin's palm in this picture?
How much money do you think is in Putin’s palm in this picture?

The Sochi games are certainly not the first time bribes have played a role in selecting a host city; there were corruption allegations during the Sydney, Salt Lake City, and Beijing Olympics. Athenians blame the IOC for stealing all their profits during the 2004 games.

More recently, comes the selection of Pyeonchang, South Korea to hold the 2018 Winter Olympics. The South Korean government convicted Lee Kun-hee, an IOC member and former chairman of Samsung, of tax evasion and embezzlement. Kun-hee was ordered to pay $347 million in fines. Only those fines were never payed because the president of South Korea pardoned Kun-hee. Less than a year later, Kun-hee led the IOC in selecting Pyeongchang as the host of the 2018 Winter Olympics.

In 4 months, FIFA will have to go through exactly the same experience as the IOC is going through right now in Sochi: unfinished construction and the ever-present threat of terrorism.

It seems that there are reports of a player or ref or coach being murdered in a meaningless pro-am Brazilian soccer match ever single week. Imagine what will happen when games matter. What if Brazil loses? The question is not become “Will someone get killed?”, it becomes “How many people get killed?”.

But the problems with Brazil and FIFA’s decision to allow the country to host don’t end with insensible violence. Six stadiums are yet to be finished, part of one collapsed and killed two people, airports have complained that they don’t have the infrastructure to assist the millions coming to Brazil. Sound like fun, huh?

And because that’s not enough, Brazil has invested billions of dollars into the tournament, which has not flown over well with the Brazillians. If murders and collapsing stadiums aren’t bad enough, there are full-scale riots protesting the games in the streets too.

FIFA is so widely accepted as being corrupt beyond repair that a Google search requires you to specify what aspect of FIFA and when the corruption occurred to yield any sortable results. Getting the World Cup to Qatar, a country in a war-torn region where summer weather is so hot that the tournament will have to be rescheduled for the winter, involved paying three top FIFA executives hundreds of thousands of dollars. An entire book was written about the corruption surrounding the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Many are convinced that the World Cup seeding is fixed. As for the games in Brazil, a former Brazilian star and now congressman, Romario told media that FIFA has “a blackmailer called Valcke [FIFA’s secretary general] and a thief called Blatter [FIFA’s president]… I wouldn’t trust Valcke with [$5] to buy me bread and milk.”

Guess where the IOC chose to host the 2016 Summer Olympics? Rio!

Guess what country FIFA chose to host the 2018 World Cup? Russia!

Coincidence? No!

Meanwhile, in Evanston, IL, Northwestern athletes led by quarterback Kain Colter filed a petition to unionize with signatures from over 1/3 of Northwestern’s student-athletes. As of today, the unionizing means nothing, but players say that they are attempting to form the union to gain health benefits and a voice in creating NCAA rules. Two things I can promise will change if the union is accepted is the NCAA’s making of concussions into a non-issue and the ability of a team to revoke a player’s scholarship (and therefore access to medical treatment) due to an injury. After them, it’s all questions:

Will players get paid? How much? Who’s going to pay them? Will athletes playing non-revenue sports (anything except football and boys basketball) get paid too? Will each school have its own union or will there be one union? How does Title IX play into this? What about the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, accusing the NCAA of capitalizing on players’ likenesses without consent? If the NFL had to pay $750M to settle its concussion lawsuit how much will the NCAA have to be (they have far, far more players)? When will a school realize they don’t need the NCAA?

WHAT? Punishments should be handed out equally?
WHAT? Punishments should be handed out equally?

The NCAA is the most dysfunctional sports governing body this world has ever known. FIFA and the IOC are corrupt. The NCAA is complete wreck. In 2010, USC football received a two-year bowl ban and lost 30 scholarships over three years after former running back Reggie Bush and former basketball star OJ Mayo were found to have accepted ineligible benefits. The Miami Hurricanes were only punished with three years of probation and the loss of nine scholarships in three years after a booster gave over 72 players an estimate $2 million in benefits. Miami’s rule infractions were far worse than USC’s, yet USC was given a far worse punishment. Penn State was given the equivalent of a death sentence for a scandal that happened fifteen years before it broke and had little to do with the current football team. A team can give their players bagels. Giving them cream cheese is not OK. That is how most issues the NCAA settles most issues: without consistency. The NCAA is not corrupt in the sense that they accept bribes. The NCAA is morally corrupt.

Whether it’s through brown water, building collapse, or unionizing athletes, the first brick of the most important Jenga game in the IOC, FIFA, and the NCAA’s history has been pulled. The tower is wobbly and will be weakened more and more and more piece-by-piece. Which organizations can survive the blows? Will any?



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