What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
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While this isn’t exactly a “criminal” story, if stupidity were a crime, there would be some heavy-duty sentences coming all the way around in the wake of California’s new “Fair Pay To Play Act.”
Basically, what this law means it will be illegal beginning in 2023 for California colleges to deny their student athletes opportunities to gain compensation for the use of their names, images and likenesses. In other words, the act guarantees college athletes a right to profit from their identities.
Now because this clearly changes the dynamics in college sports, there has been heated reaction all across the board. Usually, the dumb reactions are primarily on one side or the other, but in this case, there’s enough dumb to go around.
On the one hand, you can always depend on the knee-jerk reactions to any change. In this case, these are the people like Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith who are screaming about how this “takes us one step closer to pay-for-play.” They couldn’t be more wrong, because when it comes to what this new law, there’s only going to be about half-a-percent of college athletes who can take advantage of this, and they’re only coming from the two college sports anybody gives a damn about; football and men’s basketball. You can tell they know that because all their arguments against this revolve around crap like “fair play” and equitable enforcement. Let’s just cut through it right here; those are two things the NCAA already can’t do, so why pretend any differently?
On the other, there’s professional ham-skulls like ESPN’s Mike Golic, Jr. who immediately dismiss any opinion opposing theirs as coming from somebody “who hasn’t’ cared enough to read enough on it.” The saddest part of that is that the “ham-skulls” are right on this one in the sense that no matter what the Gene Smiths of the world think, the massive amount of money in college football and men’s basketball has no other option but to begin leaking toward the players. They also have it nailed when they support the idea that leakage is far overdue. But I’m always suspicious of anybody whose first line of defense for an argument is to immediately dismiss.
But regardless of which side you’re on, its’ hard to argue that the biggest chunk of stupidity in all of this rests with the NCAA itself. There is no excuse for them not to have at least had a plan in place to deal with this eventuality. That’s because they had ample warning this day was coming. In many respects, it was already here.
Years ago, former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon filed a federal lawsuit against the NCAA over whether Division I men’s basketball and football players should be compensated for the commercial use of their names, images and likenesses.
While the case was not successful, and the U.S. Supreme Court denied petitions to review the case, the fact the denial occurred wasn’t the important part. That distinction is reserved for the fact that denial left in place a 2015 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in favor of O’Bannon. A three-judge panel found that certain NCAA amateurism rules violated federal antitrust law.
The court determined those rules constituted an anti-competitive conspiracy by the more than 1,200 member NCAA colleges, conferences, and affiliate organizations; the purpose of such a conspiracy was to deny men’s basketball and football players of the monetary value of their names, images, and likenesses when used for commercial purposes.
Once you take all of that into consideration, there’s really no reason for this to be a story today, because the NCAA should have addressed this years ago. What more do they need for a call to action than a standing court decision against them? Instead, the NCAA stuck their collective head in the sand and went back to sleep under the moth-eaten blanket of illusion known as “the student-athlete.” Because they insist on pretending that college football and men’s basketball aren’t multi-billion-dollar quasi-professional enterprises, what could have been a mutually-beneficial controlled transition which could have been as easy as a nap on a Sunday afternoon now has every chance to become a chaotic economic “pissing contest” driven almost entirely by legislation and even more court appearances.
That kind of stupidity isn’t criminal, but it should be.
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