California’s initiative to allow college athletes to profit from their talent is a boon especially for women and competitors in sports without pro leagues.
An exuberant top-scoring floor routine by U.C.L.A.’s Katelyn Ohashi went viral this year, making her one of the most famous college gymnasts ever. But N.C.A.A rules prevented Ohashi from making any money from the performance. In this Video Op-Ed, Ohashi argues that college students should be given the ability to earn income from their athletic achievement.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California signed a law to do just that. The Fair Pay to Play Act, would allow college athletes to strike endorsement deals, a move that would transform the entire business model of college sports. Changing the rules would be especially beneficial for women and athletes in sports that lack professional leagues.
But California’s changes aren’t scheduled to take effect until 2023, and that leaves the N.C.A.A. plenty of time to mount challenges to the law. If the law is upheld, the N.C.A.A. will have to decide whether to penalize California’s universities with fines, or even expel them from the association. For now, California is betting that the huge size of its college system, and its influence in college sports, will make that impossible.