by Ken Reed

The new four-team College Football Playoff (CFP) is designed to determine the ultimate winner in college football, the national champion if you will.

But the real winners are the corporations, the Nikes and ESPNs of the world, along with the colleges in the power five conferences. The losers? The players who produce this football spectacle. Their compensation will be capped at tuition, room and board.

Meanwhile, Nick Saban is pulling in $7 million a year as a college football coach. But I digress …

Let’s get back to Nike.

The shoe and apparel giant will get to use the 300+ players involved from the four playoff teams — Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and Florida State — as free models for their new uniform designs. A little more than a week ago, Nike unveiled special playoff uniforms for each team. The players will wear (read: sell) — with no compensation to do so — new Nike Mach Speed uniforms, with special design enhancements. They also will be outfitted in Nike’s new base layers, cleats and gloves. This marketing tactic, during heavily-watched nationally-televised games, will ultimately net Nike millions of dollars in revenue.

The school’s athletic departments will continue to benefit too. But even before these four teams were selected for the playoff, they were already rolling in Nike dough. Nike’s deal with Florida State is worth $4.4 million this year, Ohio State’s $4.2 million, Alabama’s $3.6 million and Oregon’s $3 million.

Back to the players. The total cost of Nike’s endorsement deals with the players involved in this year’s CFP = $0.

On another front, ESPN is paying approximately $500 million a year to televise the CFP. The amount of that money that trickles down to the players? You got it, $0.

The names, images and likenesses of the players continue to be used with no compensation going to the players.

The four-team playoff has taken the exploitation of college athletes to a whole new level.
The CFP is more of the same, just ramped up.

Where’s the justice in this system?

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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