After so many years of arguments about whether college athletes should be paid, the NCAA has agreed to allow college athletes to make money. But they wouldn’t be paid a salary; they’d be paid for their names and their images through endorsement deals.
Many people have been pushing for pay for NCAA athletes for a long time. Athletes’ schedules are constantly filled with practices, allowing them little time for themselves, or for their education. All their free labour comes with risk of injury. Players who don’t make the pro leagues may struggle finding a job that can support them.
The people who get the money for all the athletes sacrifices are the organizations that they represent. These organizations make huge amounts of money, especially from the big tournaments.
In 2017, the NCAA itself made $1.1 billion, more than half of it from TV marketing fees. With each team playing their hearts out to win the tournament for their school, none of the players who make it happen get paid a cent of that billion dollars.
Players generate massive revenue for their individual teams also. A huge example of this is the Texas football team. They made $219M in 2018.
The players, without whom the NCAA would be impossible risk injuries, including serious, life-altering injuries. A big example of this was the story of Stanley Doughty, he played football at South Carolina and was working his hardest to make the NFL. The dream had seemed to become a reality when the Kansas City Chiefs called him and he signed a 2-year deal. But then during routine medical testing with the Chiefs’ medical staff, they discovered that, unbeknownst to him, he had a career-ending injury. He had apparently suffered a cervical spine injury while playing in college that had gone undiagnosed. Now, a single bad hit could paralyze him for life.
LeBron James has long advocated for paying college athletes. James went to the NBA straight out of high school and has recently talked about it. He was poor and had only his mother growing up, so instead of going to college and not getting paid anything he went to the NBA. He was asked a question about why he didn’t attend college and he talked about why his family wouldn’t have been benefited. LeBron said, “They would have had my number 23 jersey selling everywhere but my name wouldn’t be on the back.” He would have sold out arenas every night, and he would be on magazines everywhere, but he and his mother wouldn’t be paid at all.
California led the way for allowing athletes to be paid and the NCAA shortly followed suit. Be prepared to see big NCAA stars in commercials and products including a NCAA video game which was just announced to be returning. This decision by the NCAA is sure to make many happy. But don’t expect this issue to go away until NCAA athletes start receiving a salary.
Image Credit: Keenan Hairston