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Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's Time for a Revolution!

Wild on Sports
It’s Time for a Revolution!
By Wild on Sports Analyst Bryan Ridall

History, American specifically has been defined by revolutions and rebellions, starting with a few actions done by a treasonous group we now know as our Founding Fathers. The goal was to overthrow the corrupt power that was ruling over a group of people that it didn’t understand, with outdated laws and code of conduct that weren’t tailored to the time or environment that they were being applied to. Now, it seems that the next great revolution in America requires the overthrowing of the NCAA, a body of government that is extremely corrupt, and profits uncontrollably off its “colonists.” With the recent stories surrounding Johnny Manziel signing autographs for compensation, along with the breaking news that Jadeveon Clowney may have been compensated for autographs as well, it seems that they could be the “Founding Fathers” to ensure that college athletes, especially high-profile ones, can get fair compensation, or at least benefit from the use of their name, likeness, and merchandise the way that the NCAA does while they are playing and continues to after they have left the college ranks.

When news broke that Johnny Manziel might have received compensation, members of the media started infighting, discussing their views on the NCAA’s position on amateurism and the fact that college players are not allowed to receive any sort of compensation at all. Many members of sports media are former players themselves and have gone through the process of waiting to profit off their play and name. However, the people who I have heard discuss it have NEVER been as popular, or as visible to the entire world as Clowney and Manziel are, growing up in the age of social media. Most of the country, if not the world, have seen Manziel’s amazing plays throughout last year’s season, and Clowney’s helmet-popping, fumble-causing hit in the bowl game against Michigan. Social media has not only allowed Clowney and Manziel recognizable to the entire world, but has also allowed every move that they make to become public knowledge because of the ability of cell phones to take pictures and videos and then share them. Former players won’t come out and admit it, but you have to figure for every high-profile athlete that has been caught signing autographs for compensation, there are at least one hundred who did it without the NCAA’s knowledge or consequences. If there is any time for college football players, and college athletes in general to band together to fight the NCAA, it’s now, with two of college football’s most recognizable players leading the charge.

Regardless of if Clowney and Manziel are guilty, the NCAA will find itself in a tough spot this season. Clowney and Manziel are not only their teams’ most talented players, but are also Heisman contenders, two of the most recognizable players in college football, and top NFL prospects. If the allegations are true, Clowney and Manziel could lose their amateur status, and the NCAA would not allow them to compete this year, requiring them to enter the draft. Personally, I don’t think that the NCAA could afford to do this because of three important things: the lost revenue the decision would result in, the ill will garnered towards the NCAA, and the attention that the NCAA’s outdated amateur policy would receive. Clowney and Manziel both play in the SEC, college football’s most successful and dominant division, and if you think that the SEC would sit quietly as its two biggest players were suspended, I have some oceanfront property to sell you in Kansas.

The hypocrisy in the NCAA’s amateur policy is absurd, and I applaud Jay Bilas for his Twitter tirade, which got the attention of the NCAA. Bilas pointed out how on the NCAA’s memorabilia site, shopncaasports.com, you can use the search bar to find memorabilia of your favorite college player, by searching their name, and proceeded to prove it by searching Johnny Manziel, Jadeveon Clowney, and Taj Boyd. Though the players’ names don’t appear on the jersey, using the names directed shoppers to memorabilia with the players’ numbers on them, and the Texas A&M merchandise even has Football on the back, Manziel’s nickname. The NCAA noticed Bilas’s rampage, and changed their site to disable searching by specific players’ names, but the damage has already been done. The NCAA has long argued that they don’t profit off of player’s names specifically; however, how can they argue that when their memorabilia website allows shoppers to search by the players’ names. Manziel and Clowney, regardless of if they violated NCAA policy or not, should start a revolution against the NCAA, allowing players to retain the rights to their own name, something that obviously isn’t happening now.

Patrick Henry once said, “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government.” The outdated and overbearing NCAA amateur policies have controlled all college athletes, but most specifically the high-profile athletes, that make their universities and NCAA tons of money. Manziel and Clowney are the present-day Founding Fathers, possibly committing treason in order to advance the status of all other college athletes. As Henry said, “If this be treason, make the most of it!”

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