EA Sports & Athlete Equality
By Bob Garcia
The video game company EA Sports recently announced the return of the NCAA football game, which has been dormant since 2014.
And while College Football fans are understandably excited, the bigger issue today, even more than it was 7 years ago, is whether real player names and numbers will be included. This largely hinges on whether the NCAA will allow EA Sports to compensate the athletes for their likeness.
So far, the NCAA has resisted allowing athletes to unionize for obvious reasons, but with Congress expected to issue college sports reform in the coming months, the decision may soon be taken out of their hands. And with the recent rebalancing of player empowerment moving to the side of the professional athlete, here’s to hoping that Congress makes the right decision and finally allows student athletes to profit from their likeness as well.
It should also not go unnoticed that EA Sports’ announcement was made without any specific details about the game itself or the timeline for its release, perhaps waiting for Congress to shed light on their proceedings.
Fortunately, this is an issue that deserves our attention, with student athletes on the verge of a historic decision that will allow them to better support themselves and not just rely on their college scholarship. This is an opportunity for us as a society to throw out the “it’s a free education” nonsense as college athletes are long overdue for the fair share of the fruits of their labour.
It’s clear that the future earning potential of a college degree – which we can all recognize is nowhere near as valuable as it once was – is in no way a fair trade vs. the athletes’ value to the institutions. That’s why it’s critical that student athletes are finally permitted to mitigate the risk they take every single time they suit up.
In the end, equality means being equal. And while we all know that the college institutions and athletes will never be on a completely level playing field, it’s high time we force that needle back towards the middle, and in a way it can never spring back.