I started The Hook Boston back in 2015, been talking Boston sports since 2012.
editors note: this was not written by Uncle E. It was written by The Hook Nate. There is zero chance I’m reformatting this again. Carry forward:
There has long been a debate about whether college athletes, specifically those who generate revenue for their school should be compensated. Critics say, a free education is enough of a benefit. Others say, well coaches make millions of dollars, institutions even more (if the program is successful anyway) – why don’t the ones risking their bodies get a cut of the pie?
Well, the state of California agrees with the latter. They have passed a bill that would see college athletes be able to make money off their likeness, beginning in 2023 –along with states like NY, PA, and FL closely behind. In Florida’s case, they want to be able to do it starting next year.
Let’s examine the current state. Student A plays college football/basketball at a big-time school, we’ll say Clemson for the examples sake. He is projected to be a top 10 pick in the NFL draft and he is the face of the program to which jerseys (without his name) are being sold. His face is on the cover of magazines and millions of other eyes who may have been elsewhere are now watching him play every Saturday. However, student A is not allowed to get paid to sign autographs, paid for appearances, or
receive compensation from his jersey or face being used on Phil Steele’s College Football Magazine (which sells at about $15/ea by the way). Now, education is certainly a nice perk…but the impact of this student is much larger than say a $140k tuition bill.
Student B plays video games for a living. No, really. They stream themselves playing online and get a million followers. They are the same age and go to the same school. Student B can make money off his likeness. If someone wants to put them on the cover of their magazine, or they want to host, “Fortnite Strategies with Student B!” brought to you by Sony, the rules are different. This student CAN make money off that. To the best of my knowledge no one is buying gamers jerseys (do they wear jerseys?) but sponsors pay them to use their products when playing, to wear clothing with said company, even to drink said energy drink while playing. They are profiting off their likeness and talent.
So why can’t the athlete?
It’s not a word, it’s a 4-letter acronym that equates to the devil. The NCAA. They say, “No, student A, if you do such things you are suspended and are ineligible to play.” On top of that, your team has to suffer not just because they can’t use your talent but they may be hit with postseason bans, scholarship reductions (which does nothing but hurt OTHER kids), and get hit with the dreaded, “lack of institutional control”. Ironic when considering the source of such charges.
What happens when you suppress any market where there is value? A black market emerges. If you don’t think kids right now are making money…across ALL major division 1 football and basketball programs…you’re living in a fantasy land. The FBI ended up getting many coaches fired and/or thrown in jail from shoe executives essentially buying players to go to certain universities for some form of fraud that I’m not familiar with. Reggie Bush’s family received a free house to live in Southern Cal when he played at USC. Does this look like this Clemson player got a few extra benefits?Look up $200 handshakes and SEC schools and see what you find. There are legitimately hundreds of known cases. It’s the greatest hypocrisy from an organization steeped in that and corruption from the top down. That’s another discussion that I would be happy to delve into if interested.
So what happens now? The NCAA has asked these other states to hold off, but that didn’t work with California; so it’s unlikely the other states oblige either. We will have a crazy re-distribution of talent across the country. If you are a really good player and people are going to line up to buy your autograph for $50, why aren’t you going to go to CA, NY, PA, or FL? Hell, schools like USC, Florida, Penn State, Florida State, Miami are already attractive destinations. Other compeititors that pony up more money currently (cough SEC cough) will either need to enhance their “illegal” packages or get their state legislature to pass a similar law to avoid falling behind. After all, a program like Texas, who does not have this state law as of this writing has averaged a profit of 92 MILLION dollars over the last three years. That’s not total, that’s ON AVERAGE the last three years. You really think money hungry schools are going to just simply allow the field to be tilted in such an unfair direction and cost them millions of dollars? Change will occur and it will happen fast.
As Samuel L. Jackson’s character Arnold said in Jurassic Park, “Hold onto your butts.” The dynamic of the entire college sports landscape is about to change—hopefully for the better. But it’s very possible that in two to three years, amateur athletics at the highest level will drop the façade of student athletes to reveal what it really is – a farm system for the professional sports that the colleges benefit from while all the risk is assumed by the athlete.