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Does Sports Law Impair College Athletes?

The question of how sports law impacts student-athletes become more relevant every year. There is some movement toward the examination of the rights of student-athletes and how those rights violate the basic tenets of freedom laid out in the Constitution. With that in mind, a brief analysis of sports laws and the effects those laws have on student-athletes is a pertinent subject for study.

Influence of the NCAA

The original purpose of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) was to address the obvious safety concerns of college-level football. The violent nature of the sport called for an administrative authority to oversee protective equipment and the harshness of physical contact, limiting the damage inflicted on the student’s body. Through the decades, the NCAA increased its role to become the governing body adjudicating every collegiate sport. Two sports, football and basketball, grew to be referred to as “revenue” sports while other sports are designated as “non-revenue.” The NCAA established rules of conduct that included the definition of the difference between “amateur” and “professional” athletes and was mandated through court actions to regulate that difference to maintain the “purity” and safety of college-level sports.

The Increased Value of Star Athletes

The value of the star sports athlete to universities and colleges increased along with the funds brought into the education system through the revenue sports. The current contract between the NCAA and television outlets is greater than one-billion dollars annually. Several colleges and college divisions also have television contracts increasing the value of the star college athlete in revenue sports. The result of increased revenue flow is an increase in scrutiny of college athletes and the recruitment process. According to US Legal, the restrictions on college athletes are so intense that limits job opportunities, family access to better-paying jobs, and to whom the athlete may speak. Some limitations include the payment or token payment or even the mention of possible payment in the future by professional teams.

Related Resource: Top 20 Sport Law Programs

Impact on the College Athlete

The college athlete is placed in a peculiar position that no other student enjoys. Along with the adulation from the fan base comes the restrictions placed on them by the NCAA. Sports law sets athletes on a side path that is both transparent and obtrusive. Students in other fields, such as law or writing can enjoy a summer of work in their chosen field to bring in enough funds to pay for the extras demanded of every college-level student. Law students can work for a non-profit as a clerk or other capacity to experience the ropes of their chosen industry. Writing students may work for a publishing firm or a literary agency to build a network of contacts that will be valuable to them in the future. As sports law works today, the college athlete may not talk to a sports agent, team, or lawyer. Nor may a college athlete accept any payment for playing in any sport or receive any remuneration for public appearances of any type.

The Result of Big Money in College Sports

Because of the increased revenue flow in collegiate sports, college level athletes are held to a different standard than other typical students. Where the difference between amateur and professional is blurred in other fields, sports law restricts the rights of college athletes to pursue their field of endeavor while in college.