When the idea of college sports comes to mind, blaring band music, bright lights and massive stadiums come to mind. But behind all the spectacle, the stars of the show have little to show for it.
Schools will bring in athletes from across the country with the promise of subsidized or free attendance at a major university, but those millions of dollars that flow into the schools’ athletic programs never make it to the participating students.
A bill was sent to the California governor’s desk earlier this week would change that, allowing students, who have been shackled by agreements with the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to profit off their images and likeness, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The major argument against it is the students already are essentially earning thousands through the athletic scholarships they are afforded. Some even say that the students should get side jobs if money is the concern.
What this misses is the commitment these athletes must make to their athletic programs. Early morning training, long trips on the weekend, afternoon practices and grueling conditions in the heat in addition to a full college schedule don’t leave much time for a side-hustle.
The dream is, of course, that these students will all make it big eventually in the major leagues, be that in baseball, basketball, football or any other major sport. But the reality is only a fraction of these athletes will ever appear again on a television set.
Some incur injuries while in school, others sit on the bench. Even more will simply fade into obscurity.
But this isn’t just about attention. These athletes need to pay rent and many come from limited means.
It seems unnecessarily unfair for universities to reap millions from their athletic programs but tell the students that their talents belong only to the schools.
“Forget shoe deals and video games, NCAA athletes can’t make a little money over the summer coaching youth sports, can’t promote their social media, can’t model athletic wear, can’t accept groceries or help with rent or equipment,” California Assemblyman Kevin Kiley told the Los Angeles Times.
Yes, the universities give them a platform, but those platforms would be nothing without the students. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement, but only one side is seeing the dollars.
The bill will likely cause problems for programs in other states and be followed by a lawsuit, but this appears to be a step in the right direction.