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from The Great Debate:

In defense of the NCAA

As the annual March Madness basketball tournament returns, so does our collective ambivalence toward college sports operated by the NCAA. Many find it outrageous that with so much money at stake, the players aren’t paid.

This debate normally leads to two different solutions: either pay student-athletes and acknowledge their true status as university employees, or focus on universities’ true purpose -- education -- and only admit academically qualified students, effectively ending Division I college sports as we know it. Supporters of the latter argue we should drop the charade that these players are amateurs, and replace the NCAA with a minor league for football and basketball, where players are paid.

From an economic perspective, however, the current system is a better alternative for most athletes. The NCAA college-athlete model, where pay consists largely of scholarships, is a good one because it overcomes a market failure that would arise if all promising high school athletes went straight to the minor leagues. Replacing the NCAA with a pay-for-play system is not the answer. Instead, we should embrace the model we have and adjust it to serve the majority of athletes.

First, consider the alternative: a minor league where basketball and football players are paid while developing their talents. The ones who do well would transition to the National Basketball Association or National Football League; the less-talented might play for a European team or, more likely, find other work. Pay in these minor leagues would not be high; minor league baseball salaries range between $3,000 and $7,500 a season. Minor football and basketball leagues would garner little interest and player exposure, let alone lucrative TV contracts, because a large part of the NCAA interest is the enthusiasm and loyalty from alumni.

from Photographers' Blog:

NBA goes up in smoke in Mexico

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Mexico City, Mexico

By Edgard Garrido

I was to photograph an extraordinary basketball game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the San Antonio Spurs as part of the NBA Global Games schedule for the 2013-14 season.

The day before, the players met with children from the indigenous Triquis tribe and played a game barefoot in the tradition of the young Triquis’ team. It was a fantastic moment and I have no doubt that the journalists and everyone present, enjoyed it as much as the young Triqui players. It was a delightful opening to a grand game to be played the next day.

from Tales from the Trail:

Air Obama: President’s re-election campaign goes Dream Team

President Barack Obama’s campaign fundraising “Win a date with a celebrity” lottery has gone Dream Team.

The campaign is offering donors who give at least $3 the chance to enter a lottery to attend the “Obama Classic,” a night of basketball with some of the sport’s greats -- Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Sheryl Swoopes, Carmelo Anthony and Kyrie Irvin -- and the player many consider its greatest, Michael Jordan.

from Photographers' Blog:

Photographer in focus with courtside crash

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By Mike Segar

For any photojournalist, when you cover events of any kind, be it sports or news or daily life, you really never want to be part of the story. Your assignment; to be present to make the best possible images of the events unfolding in front of you is a privilege, and ideally your only mark on the event itself is to come away with as compelling a visual record of what happened as you can under the byline REUTERS/Mike Segar…

However, sometimes… you just can’t get out of the way.


Photo courtesy of Richard Mackson for USA TODAY Sports

My assignment at the London 2012 Olympics along with my colleague Sergio Perez from Madrid, is basketball; 15 days of basketball games, 6 games a day, as nations compete for the Olympic Gold medal. Even for basketball lovers, that’s a lot of basketball.

from Photographers' Blog:

Shooting the perfect dunk

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Kids playing streetball or millionaires performing in a highly choreographed show? Sport or showbiz? Welcome to the NBA All-Star weekend slam dunk contest.

Singer Rihanna performs during half-time of the NBA All-Star basketball game in Los Angeles February 20, 2011. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

One of the most satisfying moves to watch in basketball, and one of the easiest to photograph is the dunk, as the player soars above the rim and jams the ball through the net.

from Left field:

Heat may need a big man to take pressure off Big Three

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NBA/Now that all of the hype surrounding the Miami Heat’s season opener against the Boston Celtics is over, the question remains: how good is this team?

Clearly the Big Three, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, underperformed, especially the latter two, who combined for just seven of 27 shooting from the floor.

from Photographers' Blog:

Behind the glass: The secret of the remote camera

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Often people I know are impressed by amazing pictures of basketball players fighting for a rebound or trying to score a basket, taken from behind the glass. They always ask me from where are these pictures shot because they didn’t see a photographer in the area. The answer is always the same: a remote camera!

Turkey's Ersan Ilyasova (behind) battles Slovenia's Gasper Vidmar during their FIBA Basketball World Championship game in Istanbul September 8, 2010.          REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Probably everybody in the business knows how to set up this type of camera, but for people outside the industry, it can be a mystery. The first thing to know is the equipment required: aside from a camera and a wide lens, other items needed are two magic arms, a piece of black paper to avoid reflections, a pair of radio transmitters and steel cable to secure the elements.

from Tales from the Trail:

Obama plays hoops with NBA stars

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President Barack Obama wrapped up his 49th birthday bash with perhaps the ultimate gift for a basketball fan.obama_basketball

Someone arranged for Obama to play  hoops with a "dream team" of NBA stars -- past and present -- (and UConn Huskies superstar Maya Moore) at Fort McNair, a short distance from the White House.

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

What’s behind Spain’s run of sporting success?

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CYCLING-TOUR/

Spanish sports fans have never had it so good.

The Iberian nation is celebrating its latest triumphs after a month of success that local media have called a golden age.

On Sunday, Alberto Contador sealed his third Tour de France title, Fernando Alonso won the German Formula One Grand Prix, and Jorge Lorenzo roared to MotoGP victory in the U.S.

from Felix Salmon:

Are basketball economics broken?

Amy Shipley has an odd piece today on the economics of signing basketball stars. I know absolutely nothing about basketball, but I do know that Shipley's story doesn't convince me that the NBA is suffering the "economic woes" of her headline because "a broken economic system" has resulted in teams spending too much money on players.

For one thing, Shipley never explains the mechanism by which player salaries are being overinflated, beyond waving vaguely in the direction that such salaries constitute "gambling, perhaps foolishly, that the expensive addition of a star player from a historically talented free agent class will generate interest in their franchises and ignite a significant payoff in the box office." But your foolish gambling is my smart investing, and of course box office revenues are only a fraction of the value that teams extract from players.

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