An ESPN sportscaster shared his insight on the truth of the business of the world Friday night in the newly refurbished Mackey Arena.
To analyst Stephen A. Smith, nearly everything can be broken down to business, money and competition. He connected the world of sports he knows – the NBA, the NCAA and ESPN – to the future students have after graduation while providing keys to great leadership. The lecture was the keynote event of the Purdue Society of Minority Managers Business Opportunity Program Leadership Conference.
Smith criticized the NCAA, the New Orleans Saints and Miami Heat star Lebron James in his lecture, drawing lessons on the flaws of each.
“I like to forewarn (students) about the world that awaits,” Smith said. “I believe that to give you anything less than the truth is a waste of my time.”
Smith criticized parts of the NCAA that “reeks of hypocrisy.” When asked on whether student athletes should be paid or receive more benefits, he said changes must be done to show respect for athletes.
“There has to be something that you can do for (NCAA athletes) that you clearly exploit, who generate billions of dollars for the NCAA,” he said. “I don’t see you building new dormitories. I see you building weightlifting facilities and things of that nature to help athletes improve upon their skills so they can make more money for you.”
Michael Rouse, a freshman in the School of Management and defensive tackle on the Purdue football team, said he learned more on the inside view of the NBA and other sports organizations.
“I understood that because it’s about the money they’re making,” Rouse said. “At first I was a little drawn back; being an athlete, I was thinking, ‘I would love more money in my pocket.’ If we’re talking about business, I want to do whatever has to be done.”
Commenting on the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, where the Saints were fined $500,000 and several coaches were suspended for organizing a pool of money to hurt other players, Smith agreed on the intensities of the suspensions. To Smith, it’s not only about endangering players, but instead endangering money because an improper representation of the NFL took place.
He said when advertisers and sponsors learn of immoral standards, they may no longer advertise with the NFL.
“If the league loses money, you lose money because it’s always going to trickle down,” he said, saying the losses can be intentional. “The big bosses are losing money, so they’re going to make sure you lose money.”
To simplify things, Smith related to business in a simple form.
“Everyone understands business when it’s time to get paid,” he said. “There’s an expectation that comes attached to it where it says, ‘You validate this paycheck you’re getting because this is what we believe you’re going to bring to us.’ That applies to everybody up in here.”
Lebron James and his championship rings were used as an example.
“He’s making $100 million. He’s got as many rings as me. You don’t see that as a problem?” he said.
Smith’s insight resonated with Charles Sincavage, a freshman in the College of Engineering.
“I definitely learned to have more of a business-oriented mind when you’re looking at stuff,” Sincavage said. “You can look beyond so many things on the surface and see the business side of things, and (that can) help you if you want to become more successful ... it seems awesome.”