👋 Good morning! Let's sports.
Today's word count: 1,822 words (7 minutes).
At the more than 1,100 schools across all three NCAA divisions, roughly $18.1 billion was spent on athletics in 2018.
By the numbers:
Between the lines: Schools are not required to disclose how much of their tuition revenue goes towards athletics (see above: student fees), leaving students in the dark about how much they're being charged and where that money is going.
The big picture: Universities have long argued that investing in athletics pays off in the long run because successful teams help raise the school's national profile, boost the number of applications and lure major donors.
The last word:
"At some point, the students have to start asking, 'Why am I paying $1,000 to support this football team when I have no interest in going?'"— Allen Sanderson, University of Chicago economics professor
📊 Where you stand: According to yesterday's reader poll, 75% of you do not think tuition paid by non-athletes at D-I schools should be used to underwrite sports costs. (Yet, as we see above, that's exactly what happens at four out of five public schools.)
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
When Neymar left Barcelona in 2017 and signed a record-breaking deal with Paris Saint-Germain, he did so because he wanted to step out of Lionel Messi's shadow and, ultimately, be recognized as the best player in the world.
Which brings us to today...
Neymar can rewrite his legacy by leading PSG to a Champions League title this season, but with his team trailing Borussia Dortmund after losing the first leg of their round of 16 matchup, 2-1, he'll need to be at his best tonight in Paris.
My take: There's something deeply sad yet oddly intriguing about a generational talent, with so much on the line, playing in an empty stadium devoid of fans.
The bottom line: From a media perspective, sports are about narratives — every athlete's career tells a story. From a fandom perspective, sports are about the communal experience of going to a game — of sitting in the stands, high-fiving strangers and getting swept up in the excitement.
📺 Today's slate:
ICYMI ... Red Bull Leipzig beat Tottenham 4-0 on aggregate and Atalanta beat Valencia 8-4 on aggregate, as both clubs advanced to the quarterfinals.
A Harvard student carrying moving boxes. Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
The Ivy League canceled its men's and women's basketball tournaments scheduled for this weekend, citing concerns over the coronavirus.
What they're saying:
Go deeper: What happens when Harvard closes (Axios)
Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Browns center J.C. Tretter was elected NFL Players Association president during union meetings yesterday, beating out Buccaneers linebacker Sam Acho and Giants safety Michael Thomas.
What to watch: The election comes at a turbulent time for the NFLPA, which has plunged into a state of disarray in recent weeks thanks to the public disagreement over the proposed CBA, which includes a 17-game schedule starting in 2021 at the earliest.
With surfing coming to the Olympics in 2020, and the Olympics heading to Paris in 2024, organizers had to look elsewhere to hold the surfing competition.
Photos from the 2019 Tahiti Pro...
Photo: Mark Brown/Getty Images
128 years ago today, the first public basketball game was played between the students and faculty of Springfield (Mass.) College where the sports' inventor, Dr. James Naismith, taught at the time.
The vault: A newspaper clipping from the following day
Rob Gronkowski is reportedly "deep in talks with WWE" and close to finalizing a deal with the pro wrestling promotion, though its unclear how he would be used.
Hofstra's men's basketball team beat Northeastern in the Colonial Athletic title game last night, earning an NCAA tournament berth for the first time since 2001.
Answer at the bottom.
✍️ How the coronavirus could change American sportswriting forever (Bryan Curtis, The Ringer)
"The ability to report inside a locker room is nothing short of a miracle of American sportswriting. ... Sportswriters realize the precariousness of the arrangement. That's why they're scared shitless that the coronavirus will be the means by which it's taken away forever."
⚽️ How Britain's best soccer players survived a first World War prison camp (Paul Brown, Medium)
"In 1914 ... several of Britain's most famous soccer players were imprisoned in a brutal internment camp near Berlin. [There] the prisoners found purpose and salvation through the Ruhleben Football Association, which organized soccer matches that were played and watched by thousands."
⚾️ Two hours with Scott Boras: Baseball's No. 1 agent (Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune)
"Boras, 67, is uniquely suited for his job, a line-drive hitter who reached Double A and earned both a law degree and a doctorate in pharmacy. To fit in with his minor-league teammates during long bus rides, he would cover the shell of his textbooks with a nudie mag."
Kendall "Naismith's mustache" Baker
Trivia answer: Current Villanova head coach Jay Wright