Pay for play? Is that OK?

Kennedy Roy

Staff Writer

College sports is a multibillion-dollar business. The NCAA generated $1.1 billion in 2017, according to . 

How much of that $1.1 billion is the star player who is selling out arenas and who the school is  selling merchandise with their likeness getting back? NONE. The NCAA states that 90% of revenue generated through games played by student-athletes goes into the services, programs, or distribution opportunities that directly aid the conferences and schools.  

But the student-athletes are left with zero compensation aside from equipment access, medical care, scholarships and travel support for their participation. The NCAA not allowing players to profit from their likeness and image is absurd.

Recently California’s governor Gavin Newsom was on Lebron James’ television show “The Shop” and made history when he signed a bill into law that will allow collegiate athletes to profit from their likeness and image in the state of California and allow athletes to hire agents.

Although this law does not go into effect until January 2023, it allows the NCAA and a lot of other states to make crucial decisions on whether to join California by creating similar laws or to stick by the side of the NCAA and potentially lose student-athletes who will decide to continue their education in the state of California due to this law.

I believe this is an application of common sense. A student-athlete has the right to his or her likeness and image. 

Student-athletes should be able to have a YouTube channel with paid advertisements showcasing their character and not have to hide that they are student-athletes. 

One example of this exact situation was a kicker named Donald De La Haye from the University of Central Florida. The NCAA reportedly gave De La Haye the option to maintain his eligibility or continue to monetize videos if he did not reference his status as a student-athlete or depict his football skill or ability. 

The NCAA said he was allowed to create videos that referenced his status as a student-athlete or depict his football skill or ability if they were posted to a non-monetized account. De La Haye chose not to accept the conditions of the waiver the NCAA offered him, and I don’t blame him. Nobody should have the right to tell you that you cannot make money off your likeness and all it encompasses.

I also believe that star student-athletes should be able to hire agents and get endorsement deals like shoe deals or video games like NCAA Football. NCAA Football was a game that was discontinued because players were getting zero compensation for their image and likeness being sold for millions. This law could possibly get us one step closer to having back the video game we so desperately loved. 

I’m sure most people have a lot of questions about the topic of college athletes getting paid. Some people might ask: Will all players be paid a base stipend? Will athletes with more popularity get paid more than players nobody knows about? Will male and female players get paid equally? For most of the questions, it’s too early to answer. At this moment, it is hard to determine where this idea of college athletes getting paid will go. 

But for right now, that isn’t what this law or this conversation is about. This idea is not as bad as the NCAA wants you to believe because all this law will do is allow the athletes to benefit from his or her likeness and image. Not to mention, there are not that many athletes that will really be able to benefit from this law.

A good example would be a player like Zion Williamson. If Williamson was to attend a college in California in 2023, would Nike, Under Armor, Adidas and every other shoe company be fighting for the right to pay him along with every local car dealership and restaurant? YOU BET! 

I don’t believe that there are vast riches that will be handed out to a lot of athletes. It will be a relatively small number of athletes making a relatively small amount of money, but the larger point is that preventing them from doing so makes no sense. 

I’m not the only one who has this view either. Recently some professional athletes who went through college and have dealt with the NCAA firsthand are lashing out about how corrupt it is not to compensate the players who are having their likeness used to make money they never receive.

On Monday, Draymond Green (a basketball player for the Golden State Warriors) and Richard Sherman (a football player for the San Francisco 49ers) spoke out against the corruption of the NCAA and their response to the “Fair Pay to Play Act.”

Draymond Green didn’t hold back saying, “Someone needs to force this dictatorship to change because that’s exactly what it is… It’s no different than any country that’s run by dictators. The NCAA is a dictatorship.”

Richard Sherman, who has made his views on money in college athletics known, raged harder against the college athletics system.

“I hope it destroys the NCAA in general because I think it’s corrupt and it’s a bunch of people taking advantage of kids and doing it under a mask of ‘fair play,’” Sherman said. “Even the things they’re suspending these kids for are ridiculous. You’re suspending kids for YouTube channels, and they’re saying, ‘Oh it’s because other kids can’t do it.’”

This law is a step in the right direction, but now the ball in the court of the NCAA and other states to step up to the plate and change college sports for the better.

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