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California preps up for Fair Pay to Play Act but NCAA displays strong opposition

California can become the first state in the US to give legal right to the college athletes to get compensation if they are making commercial use of their identity

Mrunmayi SapatnekarMrunmayi Sapatnekar | Updated: 11-10-2019 20:38 IST | Created: 11-10-2019 13:00 IST
California preps up for Fair Pay to Play Act but NCAA displays strong opposition
Image Credit: Storyblocks

We all see how the national and international athletes all around the globe are engaged in various activities other than sports. They don't just play for their countries or clubs, but also get signed up by big brands in order to get their products promoted and these players then go on to become the face of that brand. Just to give this a bit more encouragement, California has officially signed the Fair Pay to Play Act into law this week.

By introducing this law, California can become the first state in the United States of America to give a legal right to the college athletes to get compensation if they are making commercial use of their identity. With this law, it would be illegal for the universities in California to revoke an athlete's scholarship or eligibility for using his or her reputation as a sportsperson for earning money. Also, the colleges are also not liable to pay any kind of compensation to the athletes. In order to make this work, the players can hire agents so that they can find business deals for them and the process can go accordingly.

Opposition by NCAA

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), has strongly opposed this bill as it will make to impossible for the schools to follow the NCAA's amateurism rules. The NCAA is a nonprofit organization that regulates student-athletes from 1,268 North American institutions and conferences. It also organizes the athletic programs of many colleges and universities in the United States and Canada and helps more than 480,000 college student-athletes who compete annually in college sports.

According to NCAA rules, Division I and Division II schools can also offer scholarships to athletes for playing a sport. And in California, there are over 20 Division I schools.

The NCAA says that it considers the best interest of the Athletes and works for them continuously, but the other side is that it is a billion-dollar industry that generated USD 1.06 billion as revenue in 2016-17 and still calls itself a nonprofit organization. The question is how an NPO earn so much money? Three-fourths of this money comes from contracts with TV and live-streaming the annual March Madness men's national basketball tournament. Not just this, the NCAA also fetches tens of millions of dollars from end-of-the-year college football games like Rose Bowl, Orange Bowl, and Sugar Bowl.

The law is going to come into effect from 2023 and will enable the athletes to take up control of their names, images.

Heavy benefits to college athletes

In order to reap good benefits from this act, the colleges must come together for the good future of these athletes. The act anticipates that a school or college would be held liable under the law if it pulls out or reduces the scholarship of the athlete if he or she is getting benefits from his or her identity.

Actually, the act has nothing to do with what kind of relationship the athlete has with his or her school or college. Instead, it focuses on giving the athlete more exposure and empowerment to individually or collectively get some advantages from their names and likings in any commercial products. The athlete will be able to sign contracts with any third party companies to promote clothes or shoes or video games, sporting goods to name a few.

In a country like US where the sports like NFL, NHL, MBL or NBA hold most of the fan base and conducts many leagues throughout the year, the act will not only benefit those student-athletes who play these games but also to those who play less lucrative professional leagues like swimmers and track athletes. The act will enable these particular student-athletes to monetize their identities and earn some extra bucks.

There are other states like Colorado, Pennsylvania, Florida, Nevada, Kentucky, New York, South Carolina, Minnesota, Illinois who are either in process or have already introduced this bill in their respective houses.

But the debate for this act is going to a whole new level. There is also a concern that if the athletes want to earn money by using their identity then they do have an opportunity but unlike professional sportspersons, student-athletes play college sports and go to college to get an education. This means they are amateurs and they are in process of building characteristics. And if they get involved in commercial processes, then it would surely hamper the education. Even the Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott expressed grave concern over this act.

Since every coin has two sides, we cannot ignore this one as well, where the player like Draymond Green, a three-time champion with the Golden State Warriors is calling NCAA a "dictatorship", the higher authorities are concerned over the education of these student-athletes. Though there is enough time to argue on this act before it becomes a law, everything should be done keeping in mind the best interest of the student-athletes as in the end there needs to be a balance between sports and education.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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