If you haven’t heard, college students who participate in athletics are on the cusp of being allowed to receive compensation for the use of their name, likeness, jersey, etc. In a press release on Monday, the NFL Players Association announced that it will collaborate with the National College Players Association to explore how college athletes could receive compensation for their efforts.
This debate has come and gone before with no advancement on the issue. In a causal relationship, the NCAA and professional sports leagues have altered their stance on the number of years that a student must remain in college before they can turn pro. In NCAA basketball a student may turn professional after one year of college, while in football a player must remain on campus through their junior year before becoming eligible for the NFL draft.
The topic has recently resurfaced again as California has become the first state to pass a law that would allow college athletes to get paid for endorsement deals and get sports agents. California is the only state that has adopted this law to date, but lawmakers from at least 10 other states have taken steps to introduce similar legislation, including Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, with Florida and Pennsylvania lawmakers considering legislation that would be effective as of 2020.
I guess it’s not surprising that the communist Senator from Vermont is advancing the cause of the student athlete. “College athletes are workers,” says Sanders. There you go. The Marxian term worker as used by the fellow traveler always sends a shiver down my spine.
As one might imagine, the other side has their opinion as well, and are not so benevolent to the student athlete. “College athletics is about college students playing other college students, not employees playing employees,” Mark Emmert, NCAA president told CBS Sports. The capitalist Emmert uses the term employees. Subtle difference but esoterically meaningful. Fellow college students appear to agree with Sanders in their belief that athletes should be allowed to receive money.
According to a recent survey of 2,501 college students by polling platform College Pulse, a majority of students support initiatives to pay college athletes. Thirty-eight percent of students said they favor, and 15 percent said they strongly favor, allowing universities to pay college athletes a salary, meaning that more than half (53%) of all students polled were in support of compensating college athletes.
So what does this mean for college sports and athletes in general? Let’s look at California first. California state legislation, which would allow athletes at California colleges that make more than $10 million in media rights revenue each year to make money from their likenesses. They would also be allowed to hire an agent or attorney to represent them in business deals, without losing their eligibility to play college sports, similar to Olympic athletes. As much as California would like all stadiums to be equipped with transgender bathrooms and safe spaces, the NCAA is not under their auspices outside of the state, and have threatened to ban California colleges from competing in NCAA championships. Bill Walton will not like this, as every other word out of his mouth is how the PAC 12 is the “Conference of Champions.” Perhaps not much longer.
Editor’s note: I wrote a dissenting opinion here. Comes down to a few basic arguments.
- This will help only the top fraction of one percent of athletes, the prima donnas of the big money games. The swim team, tennis team, track team and any of the women’s teams will not get a cent.
- Corruption will be rampant, booster clubs will guarantee massive salaries, kids will not get education, but they will get taken advantage of.
- Paid players will be distanced from the college student body, current students will lose interest and become disinterested alumni, it will destroy the college system.
- The result will be a reversion to a minor league system, like baseball has. Starting salaries for minor league baseball are about $1000 per month. This is way less than the value of a good education.