CHRIS MOORE — College sports landscape changes

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, June 23, 2021

College athletes could be one step closer to receiving a wage as the Supreme Court handed down a decision Monday in opposition to the NCAA.

At a time where the line that divides the two parties is as strong as it has been in recent history, the nine justices handed down a unanimous decision, despite the NCAA’s claim that payments would threaten amateurism.

The court decided the NCAA could not bar relatively modest payments for and other benefits for education, but several legal experts argue the ruling could open the door for the court to take on the case for paying college athletes for their participation in sports.

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“Nowhere else in America can businesses get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “And under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The N.C.A.A. is not above the law.”

For those of us who have grown up around college sports, the idea the athletes do not get paid is woven into the fabric of the sports experience.

However, when someone from the outside is tasked with making a legal and logical argument against the wages for athletes, it starts to crumble quickly.

Over the past few decades, college athletics has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

One of the common arguments against paying players is not all sports generate revenue. That basically means funding from the revenue-generating sports keeps sports like cross country and golf afloat. If revenue were taken from those sports and given to athletes, those sports might crumble. Isn’t this America? I thought we were all for eating what you kill?

As Kavanaugh wrote, the logic surrounding the NCAA’s system would not hold in any other sector of American business.

The NCAA has long used the term “student athlete” as a way to protect from having to pay players. The first recorded instance of the NCAA using the term came in a legal battle where the association was trying to avoid paying workers compensation to a widow, whose husband died from an injury sustained while playing football.

To see where the next case could go, one needs to look no further than Justice Neil M. Gorsuch’s decision.

“Some will think the district court did not go far enough,” Justice Gorsuch wrote. “By permitting colleges and universities to offer enhanced education-related benefits, its decision may encourage scholastic achievement and allow student-athletes a measure of compensation more consistent with the value they bring to their schools. Still, some will see this as a poor substitute for fuller relief.”

Several studies have shown that people’s beliefs surrounding the payment of college athletes was largely partisan. Conservatives tended to side with the NCAA’s tradition, while liberals tended to lean more towards payments. The Supreme Court’s overwhelming rejection of the NCAA seems to show that battle line is slowly fading and the college sports we know will change. Now, it is a matter of “when” and not “if.”


Chris Moore is the sports editor for Port Arthur Newsmedia. He can be reached at