PBS and HBO will be stirring up trouble this week, as both networks are slated to run programs that ask, “Why aren’t college players getting paid?” The PBS one is on Frontline Tuesday at 9 pm, and features Sonny Vaccaro; the HBO one is Wednesday night on Bryant Gumble’s show. It appears as if HBO will be getting all investigative, as it attempts to follow “The Money Trail.”
We’ve discussed this topic multiple times on this site (I’m 100% for paying college football players), and Ty Duffy has even floated a rational idea on how to pay the players.
It appears both shows will be talking heavily about the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit. It hasn’t garnered much attention in the media – were you even aware that the NCAA tried to dismiss the case last month, but that request was denied? – but as Dan Wetzel wrote last month, it could be a “game changer.”
Consider a famous play such as Christian Laettner’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer that lifted Duke past Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament. The footage has been sold by the NCAA to be used in commercial advertisements for nearly two decades. In most cases, neither Laettner, nor any other player in the footage, has been paid. The O’Bannon lawsuit could cause the NCAA to retroactively compensate everyone in the highlight (the UK players guarding Laettner, the bench players, celebrating Duke teammates, etc.) for a cut of the revenue advertisements using that footage generated. Then there’s memorabilia, classic sports television rebroadcasts, in-house ads and so on.
The kids are getting shafted. I can’t wait for both shows to puncture holes in myths like “but they’re getting a free education” and “if you pay the football players, do you have to pay the 81st guy who never gets on the field” and “because of title IX, do you have to pay the field hockey players, too?” It can’t be that difficult, folks. Form a committee. The NCAA is good at doing that.
The answers, if you care: That’s not enough, scale, and no.