People should have a right to profit off their own likeness and name if they can, period. Thankfully last week the California State Assembly agreed and passed a unanimous bill 72-0 to potentially give college athletes that power.
The bill must get the signature of California Governor Gavin Newsom but if he does not sign it within 30 days, it becomes law according to USA TODAY.
Normal celebrities get to profit off their likeness, getting paid for appearing in commercials and advertisements on social media. The most famous professional athletes make nearly as much money off sponsorship deals as their actual salaries oftentimes. Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the two highest paid players in the world according to Forbes, each make more than $30 million a year off endorsements.
In May of this year, Forbes came out with an article, “The Most-Valuable College Basketball Teams,” detailing how much the top-ranking teams generate in revenue. Duke University generated $33.1 million in revenue and its roster earned absolutely nothing. That is public knowledge of course, despite sporting three future NBA draft picks. This was a team with Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cameron Reddish, who were all top-10 picks, and they did not see a dime.
Why does this matter? Why should players get paid if they are going to be getting game checks in a year’s time?
Well first off, nothing is guaranteed in life. Even the highest-rated players go down to injury all the time. There is no certainty that those game checks will ever come for most college athletes. The NCAA estimates that just two percent of college athletes go on to play professionally. For reference, there are currently just under 500,000 Division I athletes, just under 10,000 will sniff a pro league.
What happens to the other 490,000 athletes who are prohibited from working while playing in-season? They get paid nothing for the tireless work they put in. Even out-of-season, they can only work NCAA-approved jobs. They cannot start a business, which is one of the best resume-builders out there for future employers, if they use their stature as an athlete or their name to increase marketability or sales.
This bill would change that. It allows players to profit off what is rightfully theirs. It is a strong start, but it does not cover the athletes who play a sport that does not sell merchandise or a team that does not get great attendance numbers.
Pay athletes on an hourly basis, provide them with the tools to succeed in internships, allow them to get jobs during the season if they can swing it and do not be so quick to slap the “ineligible” tag on them.
Athletes should not have to choose between their scholarships and a budding business venture like a YouTube channel or music career.
Take former UCF kickoff specialist Donald De La Hoya for example, he was working to get his YouTube career off to a start before the NCAA ruled him ineligible for refusing to demonetize his videos.
As a result, he lost his scholarship at UCF and was unable to pay the tuition, so he was forced to drop out. Thankfully, his career is off and running with just under 2 million subscribers. He makes videos with professional athletes and can make a living wage. Think about how differently his life would be if he accepted the NCAA’s authoritarian policies. Yes, he would have a college education, but he would not likely have the access to the wealth that a burgeoning career like his presents.
At the very least this bill starts the process. It’s not just talk anymore; legislators are doing something about it and that is important. Let’s keep pushing though, athletes deserve the same rights as everyone else: To be paid for the arduous work they do.
Oh, and Tim Tebow, your take on First Take last week? Keep that to yourself, you’re the exception, not the rule.
Mike Mavredakis is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org