Perhaps the biggest controversy in contemporary American sports centers around the NCAA and its treatment of college athletes. Such is the topic of "$chooled: The Price of College Sports," a documentary which debuts late this month on Epix. The film has already drawn attention for comments made by Houston Texans' running back Arian Foster who admits accepting money during his senior year at Tennessee. He's one of several NFL players featured in this documentary, a list that includes Green Bay Packers' rookie Johnathan Franklin.
Filmmakers Andrew Muscato and Bobby Valentine follow Franklin through an average day during his final year at UCLA. Despite it being basketball season at the time, Franklin attracts attention whenever he goes on campus, often posing of pictures and signing autographs as he travels to his dorm room. Once there, Franklin can be seen playing as himself in NCAA Football 2013, a video game published by EA Sports for which he and the other college athletes who "appear" in it receive no compensation.
Franklin doesn't vocalize discontent the way many current and former athletes have. However, like the other players featured in the film, he demonstrates the inequities prevalent in the NCAA business model. For the mere promise of a degree -- something which the filmmakers strive to point out is neither guaranteed nor the same as an education -- these kids work the equivalent of full-time jobs not counting the hours they spend in class.
Whether you sympathize with the athletes or with the NCAA, $chooled is an impressive and thorough examination of the business and history of college sports. If nothing else, Packers fans will enjoy the candid look into the collegiate life of their team's rookie running back. The documentary premieres October 16 at 7 pm CST on the Epix channel.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn
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