Story by Madison Creech, Columnist
Photo Courtesy of Canva
The world of college sports has become an increasingly profitable market, with the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) making over $1 billion in profit last year alone. As schools, coaches, and sports executives continue to profit off this industry, the ones performing the work—the student-athletes—see next to none of the revenue. In an eye-opening op-ed, nationally recognized collegiate gymnast Katelyn Ohashi details the practices of the NCAA and how “everyone around her profited off her career, except her.” In an effort to support student-athletes, California Senate Bill 206 will change the ownership student-athletes have over their identities.
NCAA Division I college athletics in the US is almost as competitive, and profitable, as the world of professional sports. Famous teams are treated to large, televised tournaments. Fans wear jerseys with their favorite players’ names on the back, and in the past, sports-related video games with college athletes as the characters have been released.
With the NCAA regulations as they are now, schools are able to sell the likenesses of their athletes to vendors and reap the profits for themselves. Student-athletes cannot receive any compensation in endorsement deals or sales made off of their images and likenesses, nor are they able to hold a job while their season is active. These regulations essentially hold players hostage in terms of financial stability. While some may have the financial means to get by without a job, for many, their scholarship is the only thing keeping them afloat.
The California bill allows student-athletes to take back ownership of their identities. It does not call for a salary for student-athletes. Rather, it recognizes that there are extreme amounts of exploitation occurring in the collegiate sports industry. While not all students will be able to market themselves to possible brand deals and sponsorships, they should be able to have the right to do so.
In my opinion, it’s inherently evil to deny anyone the right to profit off of their own image, name, or likeness. While I am not one to advocate for paying or giving a salary to athletes simply because they play a sport (we don’t pay academic scholars just for attending class), I also feel strongly that a school or an institution should not be able to receive gross profits off of exploiting their students. There is no other field where collegiate students can’t profit off of their work, except for athletics. This bill will not only force the NCAA to rescind some of their exploitative practices, but also allow student-athletes to gain financial stability off of their performance as athletes.
Though I am not a collegiate sports fan (or a professional sports fan to be completely honest), I will always stand with those who are fighting against exploitative business practices. If anyone should be profiting off of the images and likenesses of student-athletes, it should be the student-athletes themselves.