Monday, March 20, 2017

Literature Review #1: Who's Afraid of the Big Bad NCAA?



     This article focus on the lawsuit brought against the NCAA by Ed O'Bannon and 19 other student-athletes about the likenesses used in video games and live television broadcasts. Their argument revolved around the fact that the NCAA profited millions and millions of dollars off of using their likenesses, facial features, skin complexity and many other things in licensed video games. These games, such as the "NCAA Football" and "NCAA March Madness" series, saw large revenue streams from this tactic, while the players saw none of the profit in return due to the fact they could not make money while being a student-athlete. Under NCAA non-profit rules, the purpose was to "maintain intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the educational program and the athlete as an integral part of the student body and, by so doing, retaining] a clear line of demarcation between intercollegiate athletics and professional sports” (Lodge 777). The immense popularity of these video games among America's youth generation (also adolescents and sometimes even adults), gave O'Bannon and the other 19 student-athletes who brought the case to light an extremely valid argument to receiving monetary benefits.
       However, in O'Bannon v. NCAA, the NCAA's "amateurism" argument was its strongest defense. This claim counteracted O'Bannon's challenge of anti-competition by providing that the challenge held a "procompetitive purpose". Lodge wrote, "The most significant endorsement of the NCAA’s amateurism argument—giving it some serious teeth—is the Supreme Court’s decision in NCAA v. Board o f Regents, stating: “It is reasonable to assume that most of the regulatory controls of the NCAA are justifiable means of fostering competition .. . and therefore procompetitive because they enhance public interest in intercollegiate athletics” (Lodge 788).
     The court's final rulings in the O'Bannon v. NCAA trial were in favor of O'Bannon and dealt a blow to the NCAA's amateurism defense-- or did it? In his recommendation, Lodge wrote a very insightful piece by stating, "Although some commentators on the topic are planning the funeral for the NCAA’s definition of amateurism and predicting the “crushing” effect on the NCAA itself, the O ’Bannon decisions offer some support to the NCAA’s desire to protect the commercial exploitation of college athletes through its amateurism model. The O ’Bannon appeallate decision, while highlighting the NCAA’s lack of adherence to its own definition of amateurism historically, refused to cross the line of allowing even minimal payments to student-athletes.143 The most important point to glean from the O ’Bannon decisions as a whole is the decisions only limits the NCAA’s commercial restrictions on players’ NIL compensation up to the full cost of attendance while giving appropriate deference to the Supreme Court’s reasoning that amateurism remains a justifiable procompetitive means" (Lodge 791, 792). All in all, the court's ruling is NOT endorsing the payment of college players, but rather prevents NCAA regulations that limit player compensation in violation of antitrust laws.

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