By Ken Reed
The NCAA’s PR machine had a victory this week.
The college sports behemoth’s Board of Governors announced that it is going to relax its restrictions regarding a college athlete’s ability to earn money from his/her name, image and likeness (NIL).
Members of the media around the country ate it up. They ran stories basically saying college athletes had secured their freedom from draconian restraints against their earning abilities.
In reality, the NCAA hasn’t done a thing yet. The announcement was basically a PR response to California’s recent Fair Pay to Play Act (a bit of a misnomer as colleges won’t be paying athletes directly), which is set to allow college athletes in California to profit off their NIL, starting in 2023. Other states have followed California’s lead, with some looking to allow athletes to benefit from their NIL as early as next year.
The NCAA’s big announcement this week is really nothing more than the organization saying it will be looking into this issue some more. No rules were set regarding NIL. We don’t know what limitations might be placed on athletes’ NIL rights by the NCAA. Moreover, each division of the NCAA will be allowed to come up with its own set of rules on the matter.
It’s important to note that the NCAA laid down one major condition in its announcement: NIL rights for NCAA athletes will be exercised “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.” Who knows what that means. But it’s a fair bet it will mean restricting the NIL rights that every other student — every other American, for that matter — enjoys.
In addition, the NCAA statement hinted at further restrictions on NIL rights by saying any new NIL rules must “facilitate fair and balanced competition,” prevent compensation for performance or participation and “prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.”
Fortunately, The NCAA is fighting a losing battle here. Big-time college sport is clearly Entertainment Sport, not Education Sport. Decisions are driven almost exclusively by commercial values.
College sports are a lucrative business. As but one example, college football’s 25 most valuable programs combined to earn an average of $1.5 billion in profit on revenues of approximately $2.7 billion every year.
South Carolina Senator Marlon Kimpson and Rep. Justin Bamberg plan to file a bill similar to California’s when the South Carolina General Assembly reconvenes in January. Proposals of a similar nature are being worked on in several other states, and at the federal level.
“The legislation passed in California is a sign of the times,” said Kimpson.
“The NCAA is not an amateur sports league. This is a multibillion dollar sports engine where everyone involved makes money except the players on the field who earn it.”
Things are moving in the right direction, albeit slower than they should.
Ultimately, even the best PR machine in the world won’t stop progress toward economic justice for college athletes.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #30 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The State of College Athletics with Dr. David Ridpath: Problems and Potential Solutions – Ridpath is a sports administration professor at Ohio University and a long-time member of The Drake Group, a college sports reform think tank.
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Episode #29 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Honorable Tom McMillen Visits League of Fans’ Sports Forum – McMillen is a former All-American basketball player, Olympian, Rhodes Scholar and U.S. Congressman. We discuss the state of college athletics today.
Episode #28 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: A Chat With Mano Watsa, a Leading Basketball and Life Educator – Watsa is President of PGC Basketball, the largest education basketball camp in the world. We discuss problems in youth sports today.
Episode #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families.
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- Reed Appears on Ralph Nader Radio Hour League of Fans’ sports policy director, Ken Reed, Ralph Nader and the New York Times’ Tyler Kepner discussed a variety of sports issues on Nader’s radio show as well as Reed’s updated book, How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan. Reed's book was released in paperback in February, and has a new introduction and several updated sections.
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Vanderbilt Sport & Society - On The Ball with Andrew Maraniss with guest Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director for League of Fans and author of How We Can Save Sports: A Game Plan
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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