I believe last week's ruling regarding UCLA basketball star - power forward- Ed O'Bannon -- who sued the NCAA for rights to control over his name, images and likeness, was a wise one, and right on time! "Likeness" generally refers to a player's image being used in advertisements,video games and other media forms-- through which the NCAA generates revenue. I believe this ruling is definitely a step in the right direction! Maybe now the sham of "amateurism" may finally be put to rest and new policies be drafted up to compensate hard working, high level athletes; this is something I personally have been pushing for along time.
The now retired, O'Bannons' position is that high level college football and basketball players should have a right to benefit off their school's use of their "likeness." The landmark decision by US District Judge Claudia Wilken -- presented in a 99 page ruling -- stated that the NCAA's current mandate is unreasonable by restricting high level athlete's the right to benefit from marketable trade for the for their likeness while attending NCAA Div 1 schools. As such Wilkins ordered that NCAA schools to stop disallowing it's members to permit athletes a (portion) of the monies derived from the use of their likeness. The judge also ruled that the minimum cap the NCAA would be allowed to place on the revenues would be $5000.00.
The NCAA disagreed with the judges ruling, but didn't offer much by way of comment.
Oh... I can hear some of you die-hards now.... "Spoiled, unthankful athletes! They get free education already!" No -- you're wrong.... they get NOTHING free. Their education is awarded to them based on their hard work, playing their sport. They are educated because they CAN PLAY, and they are lucrative to the school. The moment they stop being able to generate revenue for the school, be it because of an injury or another matter, they have no control over - that "free education" is taken from them. So, it's basically been performance based education - NOT free, and pretty much what could be summed up in two words a "rip off" as far as the NCAA earning millions of dollars of these player's likeness, and them not seeing a dime -- and worse most not ever seeing a day playing pro-ball, often because they suffered a career ending injury, while in college -- benefiting everyone else.
Consider this scenario. "Tommy" a high level athlete is offered a scholarship to UCLA, out of high-school. Tommy attends UCLA. First year as a redshirt, and starts playing his second year. Tommy has a great season! The media is all over him! The next year he comes in as a starter, and tears it up! So far Tommy is two years in. The following year at fall camp Tommy suffers a devastating (what is believed to be) career ending injury. After extensive testing Tommys written up as a "medical" by the NCAA, which means, even if he recovers -- he is no longer allowed to compete at an NCAA institution. It is different than a redshirt medical. So where does this leave Tommy? 2 years of university -- the first more than likely spent in general studies, while he was trying to determine his major, 1 year of additional study - most likely based on his Major- and NO scholarship, NO money. If he is from a less affluent home, he more than likely would not have been able to attend college BUT for the scholarship. Had he been able to benefit off his likeness, he may have enough funds to at least continue college and graduate -- after all, now his dream of playing football professionally is over.
We have to start thinking of highly skilled athletes as people too. More importantly we have to think of them as being kids, coming out of high-school, making long term life altering decisions. Most of us have some time, to think about what we want to do, and can float a bit when we are in high-school, and thinking about college-- NOT theses guys. They are forced to make some pretty adult decisions, early- earlier than most young people -- and need to stay on track to benefit from them -- while not being given the same comforts they may have outside of dorm settings.
Everybody living "high on the hog" off unpaid labor, while the players are in shared dorms -- more than likely nursing injuries and being fed in designated time slots - while busting their butts on the field and in the classroom. A mental and physical effort. MAXED out.
I'm thrilled by this decision, which is set to come into affect for recruits who begin school July 6, 2016.