In the off chance my sports tracking buddies haven’t been paying attention, the State of California legislature has sent a bill to the governor’s office relating to paying college athletes for “gaming likeness” and such.

I have pounded this drum for a number of years, so I’m going to be consistent and pound it here.

Here is the background. California wants to have athletes paid for their likeness in the various games for football, basketball and the alike. This is basically a power conference deal, but they included the entire state and all of the associated institutions of higher learning. 

One state senator referred to this as “blazing a trail.”

I want to make two points.

First off, they are called “amateur athletes” for a reason. Paying college students anything past what their scholarships require is opening Pandora’s box. 

There are 24,000-something college athletes in California alone. The premise behind this is an effort the level the playing field for the athletes to accept money – prize money or gratuities – while still maintaining their amateur status.

There is already NCAA exceptions for Olympic athletes and in rare instances college tennis players can accept up to $10,000 in prize money.

The gaming companies are only going to use the 5-star, blue chip athletes from a scant number of sports, thus leaving the rest out in the cold with no equal ability to have their likeness on a game. 

In other words, the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many; typical capitalism run amuck.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t begrudge anyone the ability to make a living. But pretty soon we are going to see a game called Playground Kickball with the likeness of kindergarten student as the main players, and then what do you do?

There is a reason for amateur guidelines. They separate the men from the boys.

To me, Zion Williamson is a teenager by most respects. He’s left the college ranks, so I won’t have a problem with him getting paid like that. 

Second point – these players are called student-athletes for a reason. 

Just my humble opinion, but people go to college to get an education and play sports secondarily. I know it sounds like an archaic approach, but not everyone gets into the pros, or minor league, or semi-pro, or the D League or practice squad. 

Even with all those opportunities, there are still single digit percentages that a college player makes the pros. 

In reality, all of this gaming likeness is geared to the upper echelon of players so that younger teenagers can buy a new $50 game “every” year so as to line someone’s pockets.

What happens to the 20-something, last year’s hot news, who blows out some body part, can’t play anymore, the broadcast booths are all filled and his/her family doesn’t own a family car dealership?

Granted, not everyone needs a college degree to make a living. There are plenty of entrepreneurial pursuits to be had.

But in the spirit of education, there are needs for “plan B.” And it seems to me that all the emphasis is put on the gaming business end of that spectrum. 

My thought on paying athletes is it violates their amateur status and they can just simply go on to the pro circuit.


The NCAA can begin the create college sports magnet schools with the idea of going pro, or becoming a sports agent, or specific sport training and the alike. It would be a college entirely filled with athletes and associated athletic types. 

Think of the money they would save?

That way, those college students who want to actually go four or five years and get a degree can do so without distraction.

The magnet schools can be set up regionally and play other similar magnet school for completion in the Division I arena. 

All the rest of the Division II schools and below can continue as they have in the past with the idea of no pay for play. Athletes can enter the professional level once they have finished their education. And to make sure that happens, if they leave early to play in the pros, they have to pay back every dime of scholarship money to the school from whence they came.

Wow. This sounds almost like a solution straight out of the coffee shop with men old enough to be my father.

Well, that’s all I’ve got, Henderson.

See ya in the funny pages.

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