Don't Get Too Excited About the Name, Image and Likeness Proposal by the NCAA
To steal a line from the 70's hit by the O'Jay's, "Money, money, money......mon-ay"....
Everything about College Football and Basketball in the modern era revolves around that simple phrase and the debate over who should be able to get their hands in the cookie jar continues.
The hype and excitement by some over the NCAA announcing they've agreed to vote on a proposal to allow College Athletes to profit on their name, image and likeness (NIL) was greeted by News reports gushing over the seismic change in the College Sports landscape.
It was greeted by Sports Reporters with cynicism and skeptical comments. Which leads to a question: Why?
Simply put: To those who don't follow College Sports, it seems like what the NCAA is proposing is monumental change. For those who do, yes, it is change, but nothing close to what it should be.
Even for those who follow College Sports, there are at minimum two camps here: One, the traditionalists who say College Athletes in school on a scholarship haven't earned the ability to be paid, College Athletes are "Amateurs" and should be grateful for the scholarship.
The other side is this: College Football and College Basketball make money hand over fist. We're talking billions, not millions of dollars for some conferences all of which goes to the schools and the NCAA. Go to a College Football and you'll see thousands of people wearing jersey's of certain players often with that players name and number on the jersey. Guess how much money the players get for that? That's right, NOTHING.
Coaches? They make thousands with promotional appearances and commercials, most if not all of which lines their already well lined pockets. Players, nope, they can't do it. By the way, for those advocating players stay "Unpaid Amateurs" , may not realize how dire it is for those athletes. Many come from low-income families who don't and aren't allowed to do anything to make spending money. Which is why some occasionally fudge the rules.
Imagine being in College and wanting to splurge and have dinner at a, say, Panera Bread on a Sunday night and not having the $10 to spend on it. Such a scenario actually exists.
The NCAA's Proposal which granted, may change somewhat before it is voted on before the end of 2020 does allow some opportunity for athletes. It will permit football and basketball players to do promotional ads for random businesses in their communities. It will even allow them to use their own name for said promotion/commercial.
But no use of their jersey or the team logo will be permitted.
To be fair, some professional leagues, ok, most all of them, don't allow use of the league logo for commercials. That is unless you are already a sponsor or you pay a rights fee. It's something not mentioned in the NCAA Proposal---maybe they didn't think about it, though something tells me they will and will expect to get paid.
Perhaps the biggest argument by the opponents of paying players is that it will create an even bigger competitive imbalance. I would argue it doesn't. In fact...it may help even the playing field.
Look at it this way: If you are a 4 or 5-star athlete looking to play football at say an Alabama. You're hoping you'll get some promotional opportunities to help make a few bucks. Which is all well and good until you look at the fact you are on a squad already loaded with 4 and 5-star athletes. If you can't beat them and make a name for yourself, the idea of utilizing a marketing opportunity---it won't be there.
Say for the sake of conversation, that same athlete goes to....Rutgers. The chance of winning a positional battle and possibly being THE standout player on the Scarlet Knight roster increases exponentially. As does the promotional opportunity.
Listen, I could go on forever about the reason the NCAA Proposal is a start but doesn't go nearly far enough. And I have plenty of friends who would argue the whole debate is stupid and pointless.
But the day of a College Athlete playing Football or Basketball being an amateur passed decades ago. 30-plus years ago when the NCAA and the conferences started getting big money rights fees from the ESPN's, CBS's and NBC's of the world, the cat flew out of the bag and ain't going back in.
There is far too much money in the "Big 2" sports now for athletes to be amateurs. College Athletics is a big business--a really big business. In many instances those Athletic Associations who rule the roost, funding the big name programs would be a Top 50 business if not larger in most cities. Seriously, it's time to stop kidding ourselves into believing at the top levels of the Power 5 conferences that athletes are there solely for an education. Sure, getting an education is great and should happen. It's a great life opportunity for any kid.
But don't kid yourself for a second. Do you really believe the kids at Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Oklahroma, Ohio State or any other of the 10 or so teams able to compete for a College Football Playoff title should have different rules that other students? Do you really think the $50 million "Athletic Buildings" popping up on campuses are there for everyone?
No, those buildings exist for recruiting. More recruiting means better talent. Better talent means more wins. More wins means potentially a College Football Playoff berth. A playoff berth means more money for the school. It's a cycle, plain and simple. Here's another way of stating the hypocrisy: If you are a student in the Medical School who comes up with a cure for cancer drug---said student can make all the money they want over it and theoretically doesn't have to give the school a penny. What's the difference?
Think about it that way for awhile, we'll be here whenever you come up with an answer....