Fair Pay to Play Act to Take Effect in 2023

Jaden Stahl, Emily Granado, and Hanna Donnelly

Jaden Stahl

California Governor, Gavin Newson,  made history in late 2019 when he signed SB 206, The Fair Pay to Play Act. This makes California the first state allowing collegiate athletes to profit from endorsements starting in 2023.  

NCAA consistently opposed The Fair Pay to Play Act in hopes of maintaining its ametuer sports status, but by signing the act, Gov. Newson ushered a new from of professionalism in to the world of college sports. 

While many professional athletes, like LeBron James, voice their support for the act, equally as many are worried that it may catapult college sports too far in to the professional realm.

Pro: California bill revolutionizes college athletics

Emily Granado

On Monday, September 30, California governor Gavin Newsom took major steps promoting collegiate athletes’ rights.

Taking effect in 2023, the Fair Pay to Play Act will allow student-athletes in California to be compensated through sponsorships, a decision that goes against one of the most primitive rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). 

On the set of HBO’s The Shop, a show hosted by LeBron James and Maverick Carter, Newsom joined James and Carter along with four other sports personalities, discussing the impact the bill will have on the future of college athletics. The players voiced their discontent with the NCAA regarding the lack of pay despite their contributions to the association.

Ed O’Bannon, a retired basketball player who got his start on the UCLA Bruins, expressed his issues with the NCAA and their discretion over their athletes, past or present.

“They [are] still making money off of my likeness. I enjoyed being on a video game, but they didn’t ask me,” said O’Bannon who did not make any money in spite of the success and profit of the game. 

In 2014, O’Bannon took the NCAA to court, fighting against the use of his basketball career for commercial uses. Eventually, this case reached the ninth circuit court of appeals, but in 2016, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case and O’Bannon lost. 

Many may give the argument that collegiate athletes do not need to be paid because the scholarships they are awarded are sufficient, such as the full-ride scholarships that many athletes receive. According to the Next College Student Athlete (NSCA), only 1% of student-athletes get full-ride scholarships, and from the U.S. News and World Report, the average athletic scholarship is only $18,000. For the 2018-2019 school year, the average cost for an out-of-state public college was $21,629 and the average cost for a private college was $35,676 (U.S. News and World Report).

Before he even signed the bill into action, Governor Newsom received much backlash from both the NCAA and college presidents, accusing him of diminishing amateurism in sports. 

“They say [I’m] destroying the purity of amateurism. Not once did [the NCAA] talk about the needs of these kids,” argued Newsom. 

LeBron James, one of the most highly regarded professional basketball players of all time, recounted his own needs that he had before he went pro, revealing that one of the reasons he skipped college and went straight to the NBA was to have a steady income to help support his mother. 

“It’s going to initiate dozens of other states to introduce similar legislation, and it’s going to change college sports for the better by having [the interest] of the athletes on par with the interest of the institutions. Now, we are rebalancing that power arrangement,” announced Newsom before signing the legislation and eliciting cheers from the athletes around him. 

Across the country, January 1, 2023 will be a momentous catalyst for new progressive laws, recognizing the accomplishments and hard work of student-athletes. 

Con: California Bill Diminishes Integrity of College Sports

Hanna Donnelly

The NCAA should not pay student athletes because many of the student athletes under their care are getting scholarships, they are a student before they are an athlete, and they signed the National Letter of Intent. The student athletes are not professionals where they get paid big time, getting paid while being a pro is giving them a goal, if you give them money now they may not try as hard. If they really care about the sport, it should not matter if they’re getting money from it or not, money is not everything. It’s not a right to play a sport as a student, it’s a privilege, not all things that are a privilege will pay them and they need to learn that and not get greedy. 

The Huffington Post has a few great examples of things to think of for the future athletes to get paid, they might not show up to class anymore, many of them are young college students and irresponsible and we can’t include money into that situation and make it worse. How will every single player get paid? Will they all be paid the same? Will the ones who work the hardest be paid the same as the ones that barely try at all? And finally, many athletes use their want to get into the pros and get big cash as an incentive, if we take that away by giving them money now, will they still try nearly as hard?

A good statement that thedp.com makes is that will these players or other students have to pay more to the school in order to pay the athletes? Or will the money be coming from the government? NBA superstars like LeBron James and Draymond Green have said it’s a good idea for the bill to be passed but corporations and colleges have been able to excessively profit off these students even after they leave college.