Meanwhile, College Athletes Struggle to Gain Rights to Their Own Names, Images and Likenesses (NILs)
By Ken Reed
The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament (aka March Madness) has been a smashing entertainment success to date. The games have truly been Mad. Double digit seeds advancing, great finishes, amazing plays! The joy of victory and the agony of defeat. It’s got it all.
Well, who’s creating this supreme product? The athletes, whose all-out effort has been nothing short of inspiring. Yes, coaches are part of the product on the court, but it’s the athletes who are giving us their blood, sweat and tears (literally).
CBS and Turner will pull in more than $1 billion in TV ad revenue this tourney. The NCAA and the various schools and conferences will get huge pay days. Meanwhile, the players get boxed lunches and some swag bags.
The latest example of the commercialization of college sports comes from the Michigan State Spartans, who were eliminated in the First Four play-in round of the NCAA tourney. The Michigan State athletic department announced a five-year sponsorship with Rocket Mortgage. The sponsorship means the basketball team will now be known as the “MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage.”
How cute. However, the players on the “MSU Spartans Presented by Rocket Mortgage” are still prevented from profiting from benign activities such as signing calendars at the local sporting goods store for two hours.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., isn’t amused. Murphy introduced legislation in February that would allow college athletes to make money from their NILs.
“This (the new MSU sponsorship) is not a joke. I thought it was, but it’s not,” tweeted Murphy.
“The corruption of college sports is vomit inducing. Coaches can sign million dollar endorsement deals. College teams are now NAMED AFTER CORPORATIONS. But god forbid we pay the athletes a dime. Because they’re ‘amateurs.’”
Here’s hoping Murphy’s legislation is successful.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Episode #10 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: An Issues Discussion With Paul Dolan – Dolan is the Cleveland Indians Owner and CEO. He discusses the use of Native American names and logos by sports teams and the decisions to drop the Chief Wahoo logo and the upcoming change to the team name. Other baseball topics include health and safety, possible MLB rule changes and youth participation in the sport.
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Episode #9 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports Issues With Ralph Nader – Nader is a consumer advocate and was named one of the “100 Most Influential Americans of the 20th Century” by Time magazine. He is the founder of League of Fans.
Episode #8 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Save College Sports From Overcommercialization and Professionalization? – The guest is Dr. David Ridpath, a sports business professor and past president of the Drake Group
Episode #7 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Brain Trauma and CTE Risk in Sports With Dr. Ann McKee – Dr. McKee works in the field of neuropathology and has demonstrated that “mild” repetitive head trauma can provoke chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a devastating neurodegenerative disease.
Episode #6 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: The Need for Quality Physical Education in Our Schools is Greater Than Ever – The guest is Clayton Ellis, one of our nation’s leading advocates for getting our young people to be more physically active.
Episode #5 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Youth Sports with Positive Coaching Alliance Founder Jim Thompson – Thompson started Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) in 1998 to help create a movement to transform the culture of youth sports from “win-at-all-costs” to a positive, character-building experience.
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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.
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