By Amber Clay
College Park, Ga.
For years, college ath-letes devoted themselves to their sport—sometimes making millions for their school— with no pay. That is, until the NCAA changed the rules allowing athletes to profit from their name, image, and likeness.
The NCAA is a billion-dollar business with 460,000 athletes. According to the National Col-lege Players Association, 86 percent of scholarship athletes live below the federal poverty line. That means most athletes don’t have the privilege to only devote time to their sports. These athletes are students, older siblings, mothers, fathers, and providers for their family.
A former lacrosse player at Delaware State Universi-ty, Imani Hill believes that she and teammates should have been paid because of the amount of time they devoted to their sport. Hill spent 20 hours a week practicing, and when she was not practicing, she was conditioning, or in manda-tory study hall or physical therapy. Hill compared her college sport to a full-time job with no pay.
While Hill is no longer in college and can’t benefit from the rule change, she said she fears that male athletes will gain more profit from their name, image, and likeness than female athletes. College sports have a history of catering to men’s sports programs not only when it comes to fa-voring them on live television, but also advertising them more heavily. In turn, men’s sports programs bring in more money than women’s sports. This could cause women’s players to lose out on endorsements.
Samari McKinney is a senior at Douglas County High School in Doug-lasville, Georgia. She plays flag football, basketball, and track. She believes that the change of rules will only benefit male athletes. “Honestly, in order to be a female athlete with endorsements you have to look fine,” McKinney said. “I hate that it’s like that, but it’s the truth. At the end of the day, male foot-ball and basketball players are going to benefit, while nothing changes for me.”
McKinney does, however, think the rule change will help with better representation for underrepresented communities. “I am a member of the LGBTQ community, but many athletes never spoke up for my community,” she said. “I hope with the ability to have endorsements, young athletes will have the opportunity to see themselves represented in sports.”
The NCAA rules have not only affected current collegiate athletes, but youth ath-letes as well. More middle and high school students will be able to have the opportunity to play the sport they love and make an earning from it. While straight male athletes will benefit more, we hope to see a change in the future.