LeBron James HBO documentary 'Student Athlete' indicts NCAA

LeBron James bypassed college and headed directly to the NBA, where he has earned millions. That makes him a...

Posted: Oct 2, 2018 3:52 AM
Updated: Oct 2, 2018 3:52 AM

LeBron James bypassed college and headed directly to the NBA, where he has earned millions. That makes him an intriguing vehicle to produce "Student Athlete," a stinging rebuke of collegiate athletics and the organizing NCAA, amid his rapid expansion off the court as a producer and performer.

The feature-length HBO documentary, which premieres Oct. 2, uses a variety of athletes and coaches to methodically build its case -- beginning with the assertion that the phrase "student athlete" is, as basketball-player-turned-analyst Jalen Rose proclaims, "an oxymoron."

Athletes

Basketball

Education

LeBron James

NCAA

Sports and recreation

Sports figures

Sports organizations and teams

Students and student life

Arts and entertainment

Companies

Home Box Office Inc

Movies

WarnerMedia

At its core, "Student Athlete" is about the inherent unfairness of the existing system, one that pays Alabama football coach Nick Saban $11 million a year, rewards UCLA with a $280-million sponsorship agreement with sports marketer Under Armour and pays participating schools billions for the rights to the NCAA basketball tournament, all while failing to compensate the players.

While the customary response is that those players receive a free ride to college, many are ill equipped to meet the academic demands they face, and only a fraction of the thousands that play at that level will be drafted into the NFL or NBA.

Directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Trish Dalton, "Student Athlete" tells its story through the individual accounts of various athletes, from Nick Richards, a high-school student with blue-chip abilities fielding interest from basketball powers to an older player, Mike Shaw, who sustained an injury that abruptly ended his career. Another subject, Silas Nacita, needs to exercise an NCAA loophole in order to play in a game that will give him an opportunity to continue to pursue pro football, eventually signing on with a team in Europe, while still clinging to his slim NFL aspirations.

Everything about the film speaks to an environment that breeds corruption, interviewing an anonymous shoe-company executive about how the NCAA's arcane guidelines -- and the restrictions imposed on players -- invite corner-cutting and cheating.

There's no escaping the messenger here, which reinforces the message. James would have reaped rewards whether he attended college or not, but "Student Athlete" makes clear that his generation of players essentially dodged the farcical aspects of what's come to be known as the "one and done" rule, which was devised to prevent basketball players from entering the pros straight out of high school.

James has become much more than an athlete, and his recent signing to play for the Los Angeles Lakers positions him for even more interaction with Hollywood. Since that deal he and his producing partner Maverick Carter have sold a flurry of new TV programs, augmenting an existing slate that includes the current docu-series "Warriors of Liberty City."

James has also signed to star in a new version of the movie "Space Jam," which featured Michael Jordan in 1996. While that reflects his first starring role, he's already branched out on screen, appearing in the comedy "Trainwreck" and providing one of the voices in the new animated movie "Smallfoot."

James has, by any measure, become a media and cultural force, one whose influence extends well beyond the basketball court. By lending his producing muscle and name to "Student Athlete," he looks to be demonstrating that he hasn't forgotten those harboring the same dreams -- hoop, gridiron or otherwise -- who are destined to be considerably less fortunate.

"Student Athlete" premieres Oct. 2 at 10 p.m. on HBO. Like CNN, HBO is a unit of WarnerMedia.

West Lafayette
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 72°
Kokomo
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 74°
Rensselaer
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
Fowler
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 70°
Williamsport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Crawfordsville
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 68°
Frankfort
Overcast
76° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 78°
Delphi
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Monticello
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Logansport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 46387

Reported Deaths: 2662
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11434680
Lake4985241
Elkhart313343
Allen2695117
St. Joseph185766
Cass16369
Hamilton1502100
Hendricks1371100
Johnson1244118
Porter69037
Tippecanoe6598
Madison64363
Clark62744
Bartholomew58044
Howard55057
LaPorte54125
Kosciusko5003
LaGrange4646
Jackson4583
Vanderburgh4576
Noble45128
Delaware42949
Boone42743
Hancock42535
Marshall4183
Shelby41825
Floyd37044
Morgan32331
Montgomery29020
Grant28726
Clinton2812
Monroe26328
Dubois2616
White25910
Decatur24732
Henry23615
Lawrence23624
Vigo2278
Harrison20822
Warrick20729
Dearborn20622
Greene18432
Miami1802
Jennings16911
Putnam1658
DeKalb1594
Scott1557
Daviess13916
Orange13323
Wayne1296
Franklin1248
Steuben1242
Perry1239
Ripley1148
Jasper1132
Carroll1092
Wabash1092
Fayette967
Newton9610
Whitley814
Randolph774
Starke773
Huntington702
Wells681
Jay670
Fulton661
Jefferson661
Washington651
Knox630
Pulaski621
Clay594
Rush563
Benton480
Adams471
Gibson462
Owen451
Sullivan441
Brown381
Blackford372
Posey360
Spencer331
Tipton301
Crawford290
Fountain292
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Warren141
Union130
Vermillion130
Pike80
Unassigned0193

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events