LeBron James to co-produce HBO sports docu on NCAA

OHIO: NBA superstar LeBron James’ production company, SpringHill Entertainment,  is all set to expand its wings further by co-producing a sports documentary titled ‘Student Athlete’, which will be aired on October 2 on HBO. 

The announcement was made on Monday by Peter Nelson, executive vice president of HBO Sports. 

United Masters, headed by Steve Stoute, will be the other co-producer of the documentary which will be directed by the duo of Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy and Trish Dalton.

The documentary will highlight the plight of amateur college athletes in the USA who aren’t compensated despite generating billions of dollars for their institutions each year by participating in competitions across various levels. The story would involve four young men at different stages of their athletic careers, as well as a coach-turned-advocate and a whistle-blower who exposes the money trail.

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”.

“This is an incredibly important story about the institutional denial of basic human rights for these student athletes,” says Maverick Carter, CEO of James’ SpringHill Entertainment. 

“When Steve Stoute brought us this idea, it was a perfect fit for the kind of stories we want to tell at SpringHill. We’re excited to work with one of the best human rights storytellers in SharmeenObaid-Chinoy to help people see and feel how this issue impacts the lives of those living it.”

From high-school recruiting to post-graduation, the usefulness of athletes is said to be associated with their ability to produce revenue. Once they can no longer do that, their participation in sport ends nearly on an immediate basis with virtually nothing to show for their contributions. 

“The NCAA blinded by revenue goals is turning student athletes into full-time employees,” said Stoute, founder & CEO of United Masters.

“This documentary is incredibly important as it debunks the myth that student athletes are being fairly compensated by receiving scholarships and a valuable education. In fact, the demands put on these students by this oppressive system makes it impossible for them to get the education they deserve. The time is now to end this false narrative and reveal the truth of this exploitation.”

LeBron James himself commented about the NCAA in February this year.

“The NCAA is corrupt, we know that,” James had said on February 27 after a game. 

“It’s going to make headlines, but it’s corrupt.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, James’ SpringHill Entertainment has an impressive project portfolio featuring the Disney XD's inspirational series Becoming, Uninterrupted, the multimedia platform for unfiltered athlete content hosted on Turner digital platform amongst many others since 2015. It had also signed a deal with Warner Bros in the same year. 

The company aims at extending its footprint across television, film and original digital content. Most recently, SpringHill produced an 8-part docu-series called Best Shot as a part of ‘Youtube Originals’.