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College athletes have every right to earn money

This is the United States of America. A free market economy. Where everybody has the right to make money in any legal way they see fit.

Every. Single. Person.

A 6-month-old can act in TV shows or movies. And make money.

A 16-year-old can work at McDonald’s. And make money.

A 40-year-old who has worked his or her entire life in one industry can switch careers to do something completely different. And make money.

An 84-year-old can coach college football. And make money.

It is absolutely absurd that college athletes cannot make money off of their accomplishments through endorsements or other business ventures.

But … but … that’s how it’s always been.

Pardon my French, but to (bleep) with that line of thinking.

The way things have always been — because of the NCAA’s archaic and ridiculously unfair socialistic ways — needs to change.

That change is coming.

And everybody had better get used to it.

The Fair Pay to Play Act that just passed in California on Monday was the tip of the iceberg for this entire issue. Pennsylvania will have a similar bill in the works soon, and there’s even talk of a federal law being considered.

This is all long overdue.

You know the arguments, and they’re all accurate: College athletes make a lot of money for their universities, so they should be allowed to make money for themselves through their image or likeness.

How can anyone argue against that?

Anyone?

Anyone?

Bueller?

The problem isn’t so much that people don’t want to see athletes get paid. If you truly believe they don’t have the right to make money off their efforts, then you don’t understand how this country’s economy works.

The problem is that everyone is so, so worried about the corruption that could come along with said payments from unscrupulous entities and what that could do to college sports.

But see, that’s a completely different discussion: Getting paid versus policing how the payments work.

The athletes should be able to get paid. And it should be up to the NCAA to police the process, no matter what it takes.

What you’re mostly hearing from naysayers about Fair Pay to Play is that the NCAA can’t police the matter and it would be chaos. But hey, that’s NOT the fault of the student-athletes. That’s the fault of the adults running things, and they need to stop falling back on a lazy argument that only indicates they don’t want the hassle of dealing with the whole mess.

That’s what this is really all about. The NCAA, conferences and lots of schools would rather throw their collective hands up and say, “We can’t do this” instead of actually trying to do this.

The NCAA could hire a couple of hundred investigators to help them regulate the payments to athletes so that rogue boosters aren’t interfering.

But the NCAA is lazy and doesn’t want to do that.

If boosters and athletes are making under-the-table deals, then prosecute and send them to jail, perhaps for something like tax fraud.

Legislation could pass that demands athletes’ and their parents’ bank accounts be monitored when it comes to business ventures concerning their likeness. If things start to look fishy, then the expanded NCAA investigation office can look into it and punish when necessary.

Get tough. Enforce the rules. Make it happen. Send a strong message that cheating won’t be tolerated.

I have long been against colleges having to pay athletes money. I believe the scholarship athletes receive is ample payment for their services, and getting out of school with no debt is a tremendous benefit compared to the rest of the student body.

Plus, most smaller schools in this country simply could not afford to pay every athlete on campus — not just football and basketball players — and that would ruin college sports.

But this Pay for Play Act is different. It is about each individual being able to earn money from outside sources, just like every other person in this country has the right to do.

It’s time. This is going to happen.

It’s up to the NCAA to stop hiding behind its lazy “we can’t do this” argument and to get ready for the natural and fair evolution of college sports business.

Cory Giger can be reached at cgiger@altoonamirror.com.

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