Black Track: September 16, 2022

Support Lead Athletes

The season of American football is here; the National Football League and college football seasons have begun. For the next few months social media will compare, criticize, and praise teams and notable players based on how they perform. This will be a constant back and forth exchange that will either bring families and friends together or divide them. A major difference for college athletes is that they now can get paid from their name, image, and likeness as (NIL). (Parks, 2022) There has been some push back regarding college athletes being paid from their NIL, but nevertheless, the financial opportunities that are now available can be life changing. African American student athletes, along with other minority groups, finally get a chance to change their financial situations.

For years within college sports, athlete compensation has been a topic limited to compliance or consequence. Colleges often recruit athletes and cover tuition, but profit exceedingly more from the students’ NIL. Institutions and corporations reap the benefits from what was basically free slave labor. (Khan, 2021) The college institutions, not the athletes, were being financially rewarded for their performance. In December of 2020, Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) agreed on a ten-year, $3 billion contract that made ESPN the home of Southern Conference (SEC) football and men’s basketball starting in 2024. (Khan, 2021) So, did the players get a cut? The answer is no. Despite being the primary proponents for each program’s success, the players didn’t see any proceeds from schools’ financial gains.

In the past, college athletes have received consequences for receiving money while still being a student. For example, a star receiver from Colorado, was forced to quit football in 2003 so he could receive endorsements to pay for his training for the Olympics. The NCAA told him that he violated amateurism status by accepting benefits, even though it was to help him represent his country in the sport. (Khan, 2021)

There has been a precedent of student athletes having to choose between financial stability and continuing their student athlete career. As of 2021, there were 16.5% African American of student male athletes and 8.8% percent of African American women athletes. Those numbers say that the African American population, student athletes who typically come from low-income situations, face a significant portion of the burden from these consequences.

The Supreme Court ruling on the NCAA violating antitrust laws is a victory. The power dynamic has changed, and athletes finally get paid from their talent. “To finally be compensated in a system that, in some cases, is designed to oppress their success”. (Khan, 2021) The new access to make money from their name, image, and likeness doesn’t mean that the student athletes will make money though. For most, the ruling doesn’t change the opportunities that are extended for the athletes’ popularity or the prestige of the school they attend. Truthfully, the top college football players from the big-name schools are the primary students that will receive recognition that translates into income. Some have signed deals in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, while elite stars have reported deals that run into seven figures. (Parks, 2022) The ability to make money opens up the possibilities to invest or help family members in financially difficult situations. Student athletes no longer need to make the choice between providing for their family or continuing their college football career.

Going forward, when you buy a ticket for a college game or buy merchandise, remember that student athletes now can benefit from that. There are a variety of ways of how Student athletes can be paid from social accounts, ad campaigns, paid appearances and so much more. If you know of a local student athlete, consider hiring them for local events. Let’s support this victory for our student athletes and encourage money management within this new process.