This is not an argument to “pay student-athletes”. Taking into account the rising tuition costs across the country, I do believe that athletic scholarships are a reasonable compensation. I believe that the true ethical crux at hand is a student-athlete’s personal right to defend, control and capitalize off of their own likeness.
As the revenue from collegiate athletics (most notably from football and men’s basketball) continues to climb, the issue of student-athlete compensation, and the role that amateurism plays in our society is becoming more apparent than ever. The NCAA and University athletic departments continue to line their pockets with the money and the attention that is generated by hard-working student-athletes. Those same student-athletes are told that, to seek profit from your successes, would threaten their education and amateurism. Five-star University of Oregon basketball commit, Bol Bol, cited that one of the deciding factors in picking the Ducks was because of their presence on social media, and the opportunity he would have to grow his personal brand. That’s the attention economy that we live in today. Times have changed, and it’s about time the NCAA put an end to their anachronistic bullshit.
UCF kicker Donald de la Haye or Minnesota wrestler Joel Bauman were both YouTubers, while also being student-athletes. Once they became popular enough to start earning revenue from the ads on their videos, the NCAA stepped in and said that they were threatening their status as amateurs. Both decided to quit their sports in lieu of investing more time in their personal brands. In these instances, the NCAA has asserted that by denying student-athlete’s this right, they are the “academic guardians”. The likeness of any person, including student-athletes, is a tool that is utilized throughout a lifetime. Your likeness is your brand and your identity. It should belong to those who represent it, not to a governing body.