Nothing wrong with letting athletes profit off their likeness

Published 10:27 am Thursday, October 31, 2019

Should college athletes be allowed to profit off their likeness? That seems to be the $100 questions since California legislators passed a law that makes the move legal within its borders. Subsequently, the NCAA surprisingly followed suit on Tuesday unanimously agreeing to modify its rule to allow athletes to profit of their likeness “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.”

The NCAA’s rule is set to go into effect January 2021 and they ensure the rules will be “transparent, focused and enforceable.”

The devil will be in the details as to what the NCAA puts in their book in regards to the new rule. Will there be a cap on how much an athlete can make, will athletes be able to get sponsorship deals from any industry, will an athlete be able to get sponsorship money from an apparel company that is opposite from the school’s sponsor? These are all things we will eventually find out over the course of the next two or so years.

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The one thing that surprised me was the amount of people who seemed outraged by the notion that college athletes will actually be able to make money off their name, likeness, etc. It is absolutely absurd that people are calling for athletes to lose their scholarships just for the simple fact they can make money off what is essentially their own brand. Sponsors will be paying the athlete, not the college or university.

One of the most common arguments used is that science student can’t profit off the research they contribute to a university. I feel like comparing this scenario to what the NCAA is doing is like comparing apples to oranges. Once again, the student-athlete isn’t making money off of jersey sales or ticket revenue – which in this analogy would be equivalent to a science student profiting off the research they perform while in school.

The science student, if they so choose, can still go out and get a job as their schedule permits. While this is true for collegiate athletes, as of 2016 that is, most athletes don’t have free time between both school and playing sports. In most cases, athletes weren’t even allowed to make money while performing hobbies of their own.

In 2017, the NCAA ruled UCF kicker Donald De La Haye ineligible because he refused to stop monetizing his YouTube channel “Deestroying,” which had over 90,000 subscribers and amassed nearly five million total views according to Sports Illustrated. The channel pretty much consistent of a variety of videos like pranks, reaction videos, music and vlogs. But, because he was able to acquire ad revenue and he could visually be seen on the videos, he was ineligible.

For most athletes, cases like Hayes is the reason the rule should be and rightfully has been changed. I don’t even have a problem with colleges denying players the ability to wear their jerseys if they were in a commercial. Just giving the players an option to make money is a good thing.

Will every athlete make the same amount, no. Whether we like it or not, every college and college athlete isn’t the same. A D-I player will have more opportunities than a D-II or D-III player, a quarterback will likely make more than a punter and a standout point guard will earn more than the eighth man. We may not want to admit it, sports are already slanted into the “haves” and “have nots” categories. Keeping an athlete from earning dollars literally for being themselves isn’t going to change that.

Let them get paid.