Athletics is a national phenomenon. We admire young talent in the football field as much as on the basketball court. The crowds go wild during college baseball season and people plan their lives around March Madness and events to its likeness all year round!
So yes, college athletics and the money it brings in is a thing that for sure merits a topic all of us should be talking about.
By being one of the main athletic leagues to draw large audiences in the US, the demand prompted the creation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to serve as the head organization overseeing all college sports programs in the US and some parts in Canada.
As a non-profit, the NCAA works in a budget solely dedicated to fulfilling their objectives as an entity, in this case, supporting athletic talent as well as academic and life experience for the student body as a whole.
The magnitude of the organization and impact is not only seen in the level of fanship but, as with any concept of success, the money that it brings in.
With an average budget of around 830 million the question of “where does the money go?” is inevitable, but more importantly “are the students getting anything in return?” is one that has been burning for decades now.
Some people believe collegiate athletes should benefit financially from their work; others believe that the privilege of playing college sports is already payment enough.
Trying to find a definition of what is right and what is not proves to be difficult. However, after much conversation at the national level and state wide, the Oregon State Legislature decided to take a shot.
Oregon Legislature Senate Bill 1501
On Jan 27, 2020, Oregon’s Senator President Courtney, Senator Hass, Senator Knopp & Senator Roblan introduced and sponsored Senate Bill 1501.
“Permits students participating in intercollegiate sports to earn compensation for coaching and for use of name, image or likeness and to retain professional representation or athlete agent.”
In plain terms the bill would allow student-athletes to get paid and allows them to keep their name (brand) and protects them from any repercussions should they look for compensation for any endorsements, presentations, etc.
On February 3, 2020 Senate Bill 1501 was assigned to the Oregon Senate Education Committee.
On February 6, 2020 a Public Hearing was scheduled and held.
On February 12, 2020 the recommendation to pass (with amendments) was passed and on February 17, 2020 the bill was referred to the Speaker’s desk with 24 votes for yes, 5 for no and 1 with a no vote (Excused).
College Athletics a Privilege or a Hard Job?
With the passing of this bill, the conversation about student-athletes getting paid takes the forefront. And while those against will continue to make the argument that compensation to student-athletes is already presented in scholarship and academic support, the reality is that this bill is out to seek that for once and for all the story of student-athletes changes to benefit the talent behind it all.
Now this bill in no way is trying to dismiss the fact that playing for a higher education institution is not an opportunity of a lifetime.
It is also not the intent to deny that student-athletes already have a certain level of privilege and support no other member of the student body has.
Going by what it reads, it’s about acknowledging the hard work that higher athletics are about. It’s about compensating the effort and responsibility college athletes undertake as they participate. It’s about providing another type of support to those who agree to take on an additional level of responsibility and pressure on top of day-to-day academics that other students do not have.
If you have ever played sports you know the demands they come with. Taking that into consideration, we must be honest and admit that the “privilege” of playing simply isn’t enough. Think about this, would you yourself work just for the “honor” of working without pay? I have a feeling you are answering “no.”
College is not easy! In fact, it can be draining from time to time. Now imagine adding on a sport that puts you on a national platform. If you think about it, it is almost like working on a double degree while everyone is keeping track of your grades and thinking you should just be thankful you have the chance, without getting anything back.
Add on the real-life limitations this puts on student-athletes like having a personal life, but more importantly, having time to get a job like some of their peers do.
So no, the bill is not dismissing the value and honor of being a college athlete, but about being honest and rewarding those who put forth the effort when they play to entertain and fire up millions across the country we are part of.
The right time or not?
We still don’t know what the fate of 2020 Session Senate Bill 1501 will be. With the support of the Democratic side at hand and some resistance from the Republican side stating they do not see it as an emergency, we must ask ourselves when would the right time be to talk about it be?
At this point we do not know if the Oregon House will forward the bill to Governor’s Brown desk, but what we do know is that this bill without a doubt gives the conversation traction that it has never had before and sets a precedent for the rest of the country to follow or frown upon.