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Ken’s Column: More off-season employment for student athletes should be allowed

According to an article written by Dan Murphy of espn.com, just a few days ago, California Governor Gavin Newsome signed into law the “Fair Pay to Play Act”, which says that colleges in California cannot punish their student athletes for collecting endorsement money.

“Colleges reap billions from student athletes, but block them from earning a single dollar. That’s a bankrupt model,” Newsome tweeted.

The law is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023. One other thing about this law: The schools would not be paying the athletes. The athletes would be paid by corporations to endorse their products, as the corporations would use the image and likeness of the student athletes.

The legislation that Gov. Newsome signed into law makes California the first state in the country to allow student athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness.

Ever since its inception, the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) has been trying to keep their student athletes at amateur status, not allowing them to be paid for their athletic performance. At the same time, NCAA Division I colleges and universities have indeed made billions of dollars off of their star athletes by using the image and likeness of these student athletes. At the same time, these same student athletes, who are generating the revenue for these universities, aren’t allowed to profit one penny from their performance.

I can understand the point of the student athletes. They are the ones generating the revenue for these universities by their performances on the field or court, but to allow them to be paid for their athletic performance opens up numerous unintended consequences.

I don’t have time to go into the pros and cons of college athletes getting paid because I want to discuss an alternative to this. College athletes should be allowed to work more during the summer. According to an article written by Jake New at www.insidehighered.com, NCAA rules prohibit college athletes from devoting more than 20 hours a week to competition or to official practices and workouts. During the offseason, college athletes are only allowed to spend eight hours a week on athletic activities.

However, there have been several instances in which coaches have tried to thwart NCAA time limits. According to Mark Nagel, a professor of sports management at the University of New Haven, there is technically an offseason, but there are “voluntary” workouts that coaches expect their players to be at. In other words, these voluntary workouts aren’t really voluntary. In one instance, a coach called a player’s parents to warn them that the student athlete would not be allowed to play football if he missed the voluntary workouts. These coaches are breaking NCAA rules on time demands to win at all costs.

Part of the problem with student athletes not having any money to go out on dates or see a movie is that they are forced to spend so much time training in the off season that they don’t have enough time to earn money at a part-time job.

Perhaps if they were allowed to work more during the summer months, they would not be broke and they would have enough money to go get a pizza, provided that they save that money. Getting paid to play wouldn’t be an issue. They could spend more time making money during the offseason. That may be oversimplifying the issue, but it’s my opinion. I welcome yours.

Ken Gustafson is the sports editor for the Americus Times-Recorder. To contact him, email him at Ken.gustafson@americustimesrecorder.com, or call 229-924-2751.