As the CEO of Under Armour, Kevin Plank recently spoke up about an issue that many people are talking about in California. Under Armour is one of the top brand choices for professional and amateur athletes around the world. In a statement, Kevin Plank pointed out that college athletes do not get compensated adequately. To illustrate his point, he stated that professional athletes receive compensation when people use their images or endorsed products.
However, college athletes are not usually compensated when people use their images or names. Before he founded his high-performance clothing brand, Kevin Plank was a college athlete at the University of Maryland. Since the financial situations of many college athletes are dismal, he praised the recent California bill that is designed to compensate college athletes for their endorsements.
What Is the Fair Pay to Play Act?
The bill that Plank referred to in his statement is California SB 206, which is also called the Fair Pay to Play Act. Senators Steven Bradford and Nancy Skinner introduced the bill. It received unanimous support during the recent voting phase. However, it was voted on previously in May. While the bill received overwhelming support at that time, it was not a unanimous vote. The bill was amended and presented again for voting. If it passes, the legislation will entirely change the scope of college athlete compensation.
For California college athletes, the Fair Pay to Play Act would allow them to sign licensing contracts and deals for endorsements. Also, they would receive a profit for the use of a likeness, image, or name. Additionally, the law would give them the right to hire state-licensed agents to provide representation for any deals. If Governor Newsom approves the bill, it will become an effective law on January 1, 2023. The next step is for the Senate to vote on the bill. Legislators expect it to pass, and it will be presented to the California governor for approval after that.
The Controversy of the NCAA’s Unfair Profits
Many people say that the NCAA is exploiting college athletes in its practices. In 2017, the NCAA had a revenue of $1.1 billion. NCAA programs provide a considerable amount of revenue for individual schools. Proponents of fair pay for athletes believe that those student athletes should profit from some of the revenue that they help generate. While this suggestion seems fair and sensible, there are some opponents to this view.
What Opponents Say
Some opponents of the compensation proposal say that scholarships are the best form of payment for student athletes. Their reasoning is that a scholarship is paid to the school and not to the athlete. Opponents argue that athletes may misappropriate their money if they are paid salaries or bonuses. They worry that athletes may be more tempted to get into trouble that could ruin their futures. Also, some opponents say that paying taxes on bonuses and salaries could leave some athletes with less money than they may get from a scholarship. Opponents worry that college sports will turn into a big business instead of being seen as a special opportunity for skilled athletes. However, their views are mostly speculations.
What Proponents Say
Proponents of fair pay for athletes point out that being a student athlete is a full-time job. College athletes must juggle their studies, travel, training, and attending interviews. Most of them have limited social interactions or time with their families. Although many people see being a college athlete as a privilege, it is one that comes with a great deal of stress and demands. Inadequate compensation can leave students struggling. For example, some athletes may not have time to work to earn extra money for food. If they return late to campus after a game or practice and cannot get to the cafeteria, they may miss a meal. The NCAA’s schedules are demanding and require that college athletes miss plenty of classes. While the NCAA brings in a hefty revenue from these sacrifices, the student athletes are not compensated for those losses.
Proponents say that if students could receive a small portion of the profits from game tickets, they would likely have enough money to compensate for what they may lose when they are training, traveling, and competing. Although pay would vary between educational institutions, that extra money would help. Certain colleges, sports categories, and teams do better than others financially. In this case, fair pay would be based on revenue from team popularity. Since teams that perform better would have more revenue to pass on to athletes, it would also help encourage them to succeed. Colleges expect athletes to stay healthy, which is hard if they lack the funds to meet their basic needs.
Lastly, proponents point out that student athletes are the ones who make success happen. Although coaches help with instruction and encouragement, the athletes are the ones performing the work. However, coaches are the ones who are compensated when teams win games, reach milestones, or break records. College athletes are only recognized with praise by newspapers, television, or other media. Proponents would like to see them get financial rewards instead of just verbal or written praise.
One of the biggest issues is that the NCAA is registered as a non-profit organization. While it may not retain the large sums of money that it takes in, the funds are sent to coaches, schools, and teams. When college students see any of that money, it is usually in the form of uniforms and other things that do not meet their needs during their time away from team activities. The NCAA’s amateurism rules exist to keep a barrier between professional and college athletes. Several schools in California also oppose the legislation because of the amateurism rules. Schools that oppose it say that they are looking for ways to keep a level playing field for schools and athletes. However, they have not yet produced any hope of fair solutions for athletes.
Plank hopes to see the legislation become law and wants other states to follow in California’s footsteps. Finishing college and living a fulfilling life are two things that he wishes for all college athletes. To help make performance gear more affordable, Under Armour offers college students a 10 percent discount on their purchases.