Supreme Court Ruling is Another Step Toward Economic Justice for College Athletes
By Ken Reed
Who says there’s a divide on the Supreme Court?
In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled the NCAA is in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act by limiting athletes’ academic-related benefits. In a concurring opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh called for a broader rebuke of NCAA athlete compensation limits, calling the current NCAA model a form of “price-fixing labor.” He wrote that the NCAA’s compensation rules would be “flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America” and noted that the NCAA isn’t above the law.
A ruling like this has been needed for a long time.
“The NCAA’s amateur ideals are contrived,” says civil rights historian Taylor Branch. “I think it’s fundamentally dishonest the way the NCAA and these schools have taken advantage of athletes in college.”
This Supreme Court ruling shoots down the NCAA’s longstanding argument through the years that the association deserves favorable treatment under federal antitrust law.
Writing for the Court, Justice Neil Gorsuch was critical of the “amateur label” in college sports. In particular, he cited the economic injustice of everyone involved in college sports profiting handsomely except the athletes who create the product.
“Those who run this enterprise,” Justice Gorsuch wrote, “profit in a different way than the student-athletes whose activities they oversee. The president of the NCAA earns nearly $4 million per year.” He also pointed to the million-dollar salaries paid to conference commissioners, college athletic directors, coaches and assistant coaches while athletes are hamstrung by the NCAA’s amateurism business model.
This Supreme Court ruling doesn’t scrap the NCAA’s archaic amateur rules in their entirety, but it opens the door further toward economic justice for athletes.
Ditching restrictive amateur rules and allowing athletes more economic freedom didn’t ruin the Olympics and it won’t ruin college sports.
What it will do is provide college athletes with the same civil and economic rights that every other college student enjoys.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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