by Timothy Geigner
Techdirt. / 2017-06-15 15:43
While we’ve talked about the NCAA in the past, those conversations have mostly revolved around the NCAA’s backwards thinking regarding the streaming of sporting events and issues about the likenesses of players appearing in video games. Unsaid from what I can tell, however, is the general opinion of this writer that the NCAA is an outdated institution designed to make gobs of money off of the labor of otherwise free citizens while curtailing their rights to make any income themselves. These attempts to make income by college athletes typically revolve around selling autographs, memorabillia, and game-worn clothing, but the NCAA is perfectly capable of taking its rules to ridiculous lengths.
Serving as an example of this is UCF kicker Donald De La Haye, who has been informed by the NCAA that he must either shutter his YouTube channel or his football career.
De La Haye’s channel has published 41 videos over the past year, piling up 54,000 subscribers and two million views in that time. His videos are nearly all related to his athletic career, though only a few directly address his status as UCF’s kicker; others are simply videos showing off his daily kicking regime and ability to boot a flatscreen TV from a ledge. As De La Haye stated in his latest video, entitled “Quit College Sports Or Quit YouTube,” because he was profiting from ads placed on his videos and channel homepage, the NCAA determined that he was profiting off his own likeness—the nerve!—and put its foot down.
As is the case with everything to do with the NCAA, this is about where this advertising money is going and not the actual conduct of De La Haye. The NCAA’s stance is that it is perfectly fine for athletes to generate money based on their activities, it’s just that the money generated must end up in the NCAA’s coffers instead of in the bank accounts of the athletes that perform on the field of play. If that sounds like slavery to you, the NCAA would like to remind you that some of these athletes get college scholarships. But not all of them do, of course, and the value of those scholarships pales in comparison to the revenue generated by these athletes for the NCAA and its member institutions. It’s a terrible deal for college athletes, all the more so when the NCAA is now in the habit of prohibiting speech in the form of these kinds of videos just because some advertising revenue is generated.
Revenue, by the way, that appears to be going to De La Haye’s family instead of bling.
De La Haye intimated in his 10-minute video that he had been using some of the money made from his channel to help his family at home—he hails from Costa Rica—saying they have, “tons of bills piling up and there’s no way for me to help. I thought I found a way.”
The NCAA may have once served a purpose, but it needs to die a very quick death in the present. Any organization that wants to keep an enterprising college student athlete from making YouTube videos has demonstrated its need to be exited.