LeBron James
LeBron James

The HBO Sports documentary Student Athlete, illuminating the complex rules of amateur athletics in America and showing how they affect uncompensated athletes and their families, will debut on HBO on Tuseday, October  2 (10:00-11:30 p.m. ET/PT). From LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill Entertainment and Steve Stoute’s United Masters, the feature-length presentation is directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (HBO’s Oscar(R) winners “Saving Face” and “A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”) and Trish Dalton (“Bordering on Treason”).

Unpaid college athletes generate billions of dollars for their institutions every year. Student Athlete unveils the exploitative world of high-revenue college sports through the stories of four young men at different stages of their athletic careers, as well as a coach-turned-advocate and a whistle-blowing shoe rep who exposes the money trail. The documentary spotlights: former NCAA and NFL coach John Shoop; New Jersey high school basketball phenom Nick Richards, now at the University of Kentucky; Mike Shaw, who played at the University of Illinois and Bradley University; Shamar Graves, a former wide receiver at Rutgers University; and Silas Nacita, a walk-on who played at Baylor University.

From high-school recruiting to post-graduation, the usefulness of athletes is tied to their ability to produce revenue. Once they can no longer do that, their participation in sport ends? – ?often abruptly? – ?with virtually nothing to show for their contributions. An audited financial disclosure from the NCAA in March 2018 revealed the association had close to $1.1 billion in revenue during 2017, a total that was unimaginable in 1964, when the NCAA coined the term “Student Athlete.”

In July 2017, news reports confirmed that the Big Ten conference had reached agreement with three television partners on a six-year, $2.64 billion rights deal to carry conference athletic competition, primarily focused on football and men’s basketball. Other powerhouse conferences across the country have struck similar deals and some have even partnered with media companies to launch standalone conference network channels dedicated to increasing exposure and generating more revenue.

Huffington Post wrote, “Big-time college sports look more like their professional counterparts than they ever have with one major exception: The NCAA has restrictive rules in place that prevent schools from compensating athletes beyond the full cost of attending.”

Directors Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Trish Dalton say, “We embedded in the world of men’s college basketball and football, capturing athletes’ hopes and dreams being shattered by the harsh reality of what it means to be a ‘Student Athlete’ in a billion-dollar industry.”

The production team is spearheaded by NBA superstar and three-time world champion LeBron James, one of today’s most socially responsible and community-minded athletes.

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