Opinion: California passes law to pay student athletes

Lauren Karmo, Campus Editor

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LAUREN KARMO

Campus Editor

The state of California passed a law this week allowing student athletes to accept sponsorship deals, directly conflicting with the national standard set by the NCAA. Cue the chaos. The long standing argument for or against college athletes getting paid was rekindled with a burning passion, and this law has the potential to change college sports for good.

The law titled SB 206, also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, is set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2023. The law allows students to accept a sponsorship deal with a company as long as it doesn’t compete with any sponsorship deals that their school already has.

Anyone looking to play at a California University is now in a tricky spot, because while there is an opportunity to get paid, the NCAA has threatened to kick California universities out of championships and bowl play.

The NCAA has been profiting off of college athletics for decades, especially between college football season and March Madness. Selling athletes’ names, faces and talent for a quick buck without any offer of compensation in return are actions former Michigan State basketball player and Golden State Warriors player Draymond Green has likened to “a dictatorship.” Many are happy to see the athletes finally get a taste of the spoils themselves.

One argument against this bill that organizations like the PAC-12 have made is that the professionalization and monetization of college sports will have a negative impact on female athletes and athletes of less popular sports. They argue that this law will change the equal opportunities given to all athletes under Title IX because the university will not have any involvement with any sponsorship deals. 

Despite the PAC-12’s statement, many are saying female athletes might actually reap more benefits from this law than their male counterparts. Women have a far smaller chance of going pro after college than men, so this law will allow them to make money off their talents while the spotlight is on them. 

One thing that doesn’t quite sit right with the typical broke college student is the way others have been talking about this issue. Student athletes are not on- the-bottom-of-the-barrel pro athletes like Michigan Alum and Golden State Warriors player Glenn Robinson III makes them out to be. They are still getting free tuition, housing and meals that other students go millions of dollars into debt for, not to mention the influence and respect they have around campus. 

On a more serious note, outside of the small world of a college campus, student athletes are constantly being taken advantage of by large corporations and institutions. Many of them agree to sign their name away to collegiate athletics as young as 14. This law will encourage athletes to stay in school longer instead of dropping out to go pro. It will also spark reform on the national level. 

California has put both the NCAA and other states across the nation in an uncomfortable spot. With Big 10 giants like Michigan and Michigan State, our government will feel the pressure to either make a statement against this law or follow suit. Maybe in a few years time, we might see the next Xavier Hill-Mais walking around Oakland University’s campus in a brand new Nike tracksuit and a fresh pair of Air Jordans to the boot.