Friday, April 01, 2011

Journalism Excellence? No.

I regularly think up topics or come across news articles I decide I should address or respond to on this blog, but I obviously rarely get around to it. But today I just had to show you this article from Wednesday’s USA Today. Some of the relevant text is pasted below in case the link goes bad some day. See if you can see the fallacy. I will explain below the jump.

“[A] USA TODAY analysis has determined that a typical player for a program receives at least $120,000 annually in goods, services and future earnings for his athletic work.”

“But more than scholarships, players receive benefits including: elite coaching; academic counseling; strength and conditioning consulting; media relations assistance; medical insurance and treatment; free game tickets; and future earnings power that comes with some college education.” (Weiner & Berkowitz, USA Today, 3/30/2011)

The article was pretty interesting, but I am pretty disappointed in the “USA TODAY analysis” as well as the authors of the article. The problem is that by counting scholarships for tuition and future earnings power separately they are double counting. It is a pretty glaring error in logic. The value of the latter is the biggest reason for the value of the former. The analogy would be if I give you an apple that would have cost 50 cents. Then I tell you that what I gave you was worth $1.00: 50 cents for the apple, and 50 cents of your own money that you don’t have to pay to get the apple. It doesn't work.