More Money, More Problems

Yes, I agree that it would be great to see the return of an EA Sports NCAA football, as I have been a Madden fan for many years. However, I don’t think that allowing the change brought on by California’s new law is a good idea. Sure, the realm of college athletics is a business, pure and simple, but performance in a sport is a team effort, so why should some popular players get paid when their peers on the team don’t? After all, the most popular college players who would profit from this law are likely going to be high draft picks anyway where they will make millions right off the bat. While the NCAA doesn’t pay players directly, it provides a fair platform for players to prove that they should be paid in the pros.

The new law in California will not only cease to keep things fair, but it will cause a cascade of issues that will have unintended consequences farther down the line. The status quo has been working for years, and if something works just fine, why try to change it?

People need motivation to do anything, and for professional athletes, it’s that the better they play, the more money they get. If college players also get paid, then that takes away from what makes it so special on draft day when an athlete becomes a professional and realizes their dream. I watch the NFL draft every year and would hate for part of the magic of that night to disappear because players are already getting paid coming
into their professional sport. Plus, they may become more complacent if they think they don’t have to earn the money by giving their all at every practice. No one wants to watch a lazy player on their team, fan or coach. I’m concerned that players would become complacent and distracted if they were being handed money and told how great they were because of that.

In addition to this, aren’t college players getting paid already through their scholarships? Getting a free ride to college is essentially getting indirectly paid to come to a college, with D1 athletes getting special benefits such as tutors. These academic services cost money, and the players getting paid more doesn’t make any sense. Besides, I am sure that many players get under the table deals anyway to come to certain top athletic departments.

Isn’t it kind of absurd that athletes are paid millions because they can play a game better than others? So this new law will go ahead and pay these kids money now when they will get deals will eventually go pro and make millions anyway, because the ones who would profit from their likeness are the ones who are popular, talented and shoe-ins to get drafted. The passage of the law only throws more money at this system that on a fundamental level doesn’t seem to make much sense.

To add to my financial issues with this law, it would allow players to draw money away from the revenue of the college athletic department. One misconception many people have is that the athletic department receives all of the revenue gained from the advertising and ticket sales from its games. According to Ben Kercheval’s article on Bleacher Report, Chris Smith of Forbes.com said, “While many athletic departments have to take loans from their parent universities just to break even, Alabama’s athletic department sends money the other way. Last year it contributed around $6.5 million to the university to provide for faculty support and non-athletic scholarships.” Based on Smith’s data, sending money to individual players would draw money away that is actually benefiting the academics of the university, making it harder for schools to provide services and scholarships on the academic side of things.

And finally, these laws would shift students’ attention from academics. How do we know that they won’t devote all their time to sports and then be left with nothing when they don’t get drafted? This shift of focus could be an unintended yet dangerous side effect of the passing of the law.

I don’t know for sure what will happen when this law goes into effect, I don’t think anyone really does. But the way things play out will have significant ramifications for not only the college athletes themselves, but the college community as a whole.