SXSW: The Death of Amateurism

South by Southwest® (SXSW®) 2018 Panel

The Death of Amateurism featuring The Historical Basketball League (the HBL)

Sunday, March 22, 2018 • 3:30 – 4:30 pm • JW Marriott Salon C • Austin, Texas

A defining premise of the NCAA is that amateurism—that athletes are unpaid students—is an essential part of the appeal of college athletics. The upstart Historical Basketball League seeks to challenge that notion simply by paying players. Revenues generated by college sports are in the billions of dollars, shouldn't the labor producing all that value be paid for it?

The Historical Basketball League is the first national basketball league for college students that will substantially compensate college athletes based on their athletic ability beyond just a college education. The HBL is founded on a simple idea: college sports are popular because they are sports played by college students, and that NCAA-style amateurism is a means of excluding athletes from the financial benefits of the league, rather than as a benefit to fans or athletes. The HBL will be also be a financial boon to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that participate in the league and share (with athletes and investors) in the league’s profits. The HBL gives schools and athletes an option outside of the traditional NCAA model – providing a choice of whether to go "pro" while in college or to be amateur about it.

The HBL sees the NCAA’s insistence on “amateurism” as a market opportunity for a college-based basketball. By showing that compensating college athletes will not lead to a collapse of the industry, the HBL represents an opportunity to change perceptions of the market value of athletes and of the supposed necessity for “amateurism” and thus improve the well-being of college athletes.

Speakers: Kavitha Davidson, ESPN; Patrick Hruby, Vice; Ray Jackson, Ray Jackson’s Rising Stars/5th Wheel Agency; and Andy Schwarz, Historical Basketball League

> Kavitha A. Davidson is a writer for espnW and ESPN the Magazine. She previously wrote a daily sports column for Bloomberg View with a heavy focus on the intersection of sports and business. A native New Yorker, she attended Columbia University, where she was the sports editor of the Columbia Spectator.

> Patrick Hruby is an award-winning Washington, DC-based journalist who specializes in deep and insightful commentary, reporting, and storytelling about the intersection of sports and society, including NCAA amateurism.

> Ray Jackson, an Austin native, is a youth advocate, community leader and staff member at his alma mater, Lyndon B. Johnson High School. Jackson made college basketball history as one of the "Fab Five", a group of basketball phenoms that made history playing for the University of Michigan. In 2011, Jackson served as an Executive Producer of the ESPN Films documentary, "The Fab Five."

> Andy Schwarz is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Historical Basketball League (HBL). He is an antitrust economist with a subspecialty in sports economics. Notably, Mr. Schwarz was the case manager for the NFL’s economic expert in L.A. Raiders v. NFL and for Plaintiffs’ economic experts in O’Bannon v. NCAA and the economic expert for the Keller v. NCAA settlement class. He has testified to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Education and the Workforce, participated on another U.S. Congressional panel on college sports, and has served as an economic expert in a wide variety of state and federal litigation. Mr. Schwarz has been featured on ESPN, in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, Bloomberg News, Sports on Earth, and USA Today. He is a frequent contributor to Vice Sports and Deadspin and has written for Slate, Forbes.com, 538.com, and ESPN.com.

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