Endorsements have been a big part of professional sports for over a century. Babe Ruth, Lebron James, Mike Trout, Serena and Venus Williams, the list goes on and on. From basketball players like Lebron James and Steph Curry, to surfers like Kelly Slater and Bethany Hamilton, and gymnasts like Mary Lou Retton, athletes have been getting paid to endorse products for a long time.
If you were to list off the top of your head right now 1 college athlete with a big time endorsement, could you do it? The answer is an obvious, no. NCAA rules forbid student athletes from making money off of endorsements while still in college. All of the athletes listed above made money off of endorsements after finishing collegiate education.
The NCAA recently announced that they would be implementing a rule that would enable college athletes to make profit off of endorsements. This is a controversial rule change that has some NBA players like Lebron James and Draymond Green pushing heavily for the change and supporting it greatly, which leads me to ask, what are the favoring sides of having this rule in place?
First of all, some young athletes come from struggling families and communities, and these endorsements can help aid the athlete’s family financially. In a video titled “NCAA’s divisions to begin work amending bylaws,” CNBC’s Jabari Young states that it is more of a benefit for the athletes of poor community origin than the middle class or upper class origin athletes. He goes on to say:
“It’s not about those kids. It’s about the inner city kids, those kids who are going to represent these schools who don’t have anything, they don’t come from anything. I come from north Philly. I know what it’s like not to have [anything], and so these schools, these kids that come from these inner city neighborhoods, they’re going to benefit because now, they can help their parents, they can help their mom or dad pay rent, living in the Projects, they can now be a support for their family, and that’s why I think this bill, California did it, that’s great, and the NCAA gotta follow.”
Clearly, Young can relate to this group, which is why he is supporting them. He realizes their struggles as he has gone through them before in his life. The league implementing this new rule change about players getting income on endorsements would clearly, according to Young, have a greater, positive effect on the poor community than it would in the middle and upper class.
This rule change can also have other positive effects. Of course, these effects do not just have an impact on the players; however, they also have an impact on the league itself. Allowing players to use endorsements to gain revenue can make the league vastly more popular. People would see NCAA players’ faces all over logos of big brands such as Nike, Foot Locker, Gatorade, and others. This would not just get the players recognized, it would also get the league itself recognized as a whole, therefore gaining popularity, a win-win!
“Universities are making a ton of money off of your likeness. It does not make any sense. Someone needs to force this dictatorship to change,” said Draymond Green about this cause when asked by the Warriors media on Sept. 30. Green believes that if universities make money off of a player playing basketball, baseball, football, or any other sport, then that said player deserves to make money in return for that playing time that the university profited from, and that any rule stating you cannot can be considered dictatorship under Green’s standards. The dictionary defines dictatorship as “a country, government, or the form of government in which absolute power is exercised by a dictator” or “absolute, imperious, or overbearing power or control.” In this scenario, the league is displaying a form of power, which is not allowing student athletes to make a profit off of endorsements, while the form of government would technically not be a specific government in this case, as it would be the NCAA. Green makes a good point in this quote and a great case as to why this rule is a good one and should be put in place.
There are also negatives to adding this rule into the NCAA. This rule could have even more of an effect on athletes’ future than anything. Student athletes are not exactly as much of “student” athletes as they should be. Schools are mixing up their priorities and putting themselves in front of their student athletes’ futures. “In 2003, the NCAA passed a resolution which allowed programs to recruit students who scored 400-or-below on the SAT test. A score of 400 is the lowest score possible on the test. Before this resolution was passed, the previous standard was 700, while the national average among test-takers was approximately 800.” This is unacceptable, and clearly the league does not care about their athletes’ future.
The NCAA makes a profit on their athletes, and if they followed their own rules and did not let these athletes whose grades are on a constant decline sit out, they would not make any profit. So, they decide to let the player play, causing a continuing decline in their grades, therefore ruining their future life.
In college, the average GPA of an athlete was 2.379, while the average GPA of a non-athlete was 2.681. The minimum GPA you can have and still be NCAA eligible for DI is a 2.3 GPA, which means many of these athletes are not maintaining this GPA standard.
The colleges are selfish, and should give their student athletes a real education, not force them to constantly play sports that they may or may not even want to play. If this rule was implemented, it could cause another distraction for these athletes.
Currently, athletes are distracted from their education by their athletics. This is due to the colleges obsessing over having fame in that category. If you add endorsements to the equation, the athletes will have another distraction to prevent them from learning, therefore preventing them from having a successful life. Endorsements will be forced upon athletes by big name companies while schools force athletes to play and work on their game constantly, and the stress of an athlete’s life will prevent them from learning and prevent them from ever becoming a successful person in their life outside of sports.
NCAA players are still teens. Some are in their early 20s, however, most are in their teen years, and their brains are still developing, as the human brain does not fully develop until the age of 25 years old. With the brain not fully developed, these athletes cannot handle all this money they are gaining from endorsements. With all of the new technology, they could go that route and lose it on a spending spree, they could lose it all gambling like Michael Jordan, Pete Rose, and Charles Barkley. Money can corrupt people, and money can certainly lead to future drug and alcohol addictions. According to Mental Health daily, brain development takes at least until age 20, can likely persist into the mid 20s, and possibly into the thirties. With college athletes attending school for shorter periods of time every year, athletes in the NCAA are certainly getting younger. Children attend their senior year of high school at the age of either 18 or 19. This would mean that kids would attend college at the age of 20. 20 year olds can certainly not be trusted with large amounts of money they gain from endorsements, and if their brain is still developing up to the age of 25 and possibly until the age of 30, they could not be trusted with finances for the rest of their collegiate career.
College athletes are very talented young men and women. They play NCAA sports, many, hoping to become the next up and coming athlete. These athletes constantly work on their craft day and night, and are dedicated to their specific sport. However, one thing is preventing them from meeting this goal of becoming a great athlete…Money. They are so drawn to money and fame that they cannot understand that they are getting a free education just to play the sport they are passionate about for a college. However, colleges encourage this type of behavior as they do not encourage their student athletes enough to learn. Athletes need to focus on playing the sport they went to college to play, and wait until money comes their way later in their athletic career, specifically in the professional leagues. The colleges also need to encourage this, not favoring athletics and balancing it with academics, while the NCAA eliminates this rule, because college athletes should not make profit off endorsements.
Colleges are not responsible enough when handling their athletes. There are consistently headlines about players being paid by colleges to play sports at that college rather than another one, colleges favor athletics over academics, they allow athletes who do not maintain the required grade to play, even though it disregards NCAA rules, and can completely ruin a student athletes future.
College athletes should focus on playing the game they love, and on their academics especially. On the other hand, the colleges need to focus on encouraging academics and not favoring athletics as they have done in previous years, thus, guiding their student athletes to a successful life.
Photo credit: NPR, “The ‘Illegal’ Procedure of Paying College Athletes”