It is a tale as old as time they say. One person says they deserve X, while the deciding party declares that person deserves Y. The only problem is the two sides have never been farther apart.
On one end of the spectrum, you have the student athletes who while participating in collegiate athletics (and prior for eligibility) are unable to be paid for their representation, likeness or production. Believe it or not, a relatively controversial topic.
While not applicable to every case, a greater quantification of data has allowed people to begin providing enough evidence of their estimated value to have legitimate discussions of whether or not they should receive some sort of compensation as a result of their
performance. Do they lead to increased attendance? Maybe they contributed to merchandise sales. Perhaps it lead to a strategic partnership of sorts. The list is endless.
Many argue that they, the athletes, receive their “payment” through the funded education received and amenities associated with being an “athlete”. Others argue that they should respect the process and accept that the money will come if applicable. Then there are the guys who argue for the longevity or lack thereof for many of these athletes and why they need to make their push for compensation while they retain value.
Current Texas quarterback, Sam Ehlinger definitively took a stance on the matter.
"Consider a full-time unpaid internship that requires 1-4 years of participation, with a minimum 40-hour work week. This internship generates millions of dollars for your company, and billions of dollars for the broadcasting companies that cover your industry," wrote Ehlinger, who is studying business at Texas. "Within this internship, you risk your short-term and long-term health on a daily basis. You endure this internship with less than a 2 percent chance to advance in your industry and obtain a full-time paid job. Would you accept this position?"
One would want to think that Sam was a victim of exaggeration, but the only problem with that train of thought is that we had one of the best examples in recent member just in February. Exhibit A. Zion Williamson, the 18-year-old Duke Blue Devil out of Spartanburg, South Carolina. I am prefacing this with the fact that this game to be referenced was a top 10 matchup between collegiate rivals Duke and North Carolina.
The cheapest ticket to this February 20th heavyweight fight would have cost you $2,500.00. Just about $160 bucks less than the cheapest ticket to the Super Bowl a week before kickoff. More expensive tickets went for as much as $10,652.00 for a single ticket. Needless to say it was an already well noted point made even more apparent as Williamson blew out his Nike made shoe under a minute into the game ending his night immediately due to a knee injury. The same knee injury that has kept him out of 5 games since that night.
It certainly has served as ample ammunition to fire the debate back up since though, as buzzwords such as “shelf life” reign supreme. We are in an age of analytics where everything can be quantified, measured and presented as needed. It is a world of where the average person whose talent may lie in the craft itself, is now armed with the ability to present their gift with the highest level business acumen, even where it may not be their strongest competency. The delivery of product is not a problem.
The quantifying one’s value is not a problem. The general support needed to progress this is not a problem. The business savviness of the market is not a problem. There aren’t many problems that remain and thus the expectation of a gray area future should be prepared for at the least.
The talent has every right to ask. The market has every right to facilitate the demand. The schools, brands, entities, etc. have every right to make money as a result. Everyone is well within their right, which is why we foresee this moving along as further high dollar implication results are documented.
It isn’t bad that there is an impending blending of business and sport. It isn’t bad to mold athletes into business members. There just is some regret that the process now ensues in middle school, where some may never know what “for the love of the game” actually means.