Our Opinion: Poking tigers with sticks

George Orwell called it “Newspeak.”

We often laugh at the way government redefines the meaning of words, and “Fair Pay to Play,” the recently passed California law that is now being discussed in our state legislature, certainly turns the dictionary on its ear.

Athletes choose college, and their compensation is a college education.

Could they — should they — receive more? There’s a strong argument for that.

Scholarship athletes receive tuition and fees — usually partial payments — room and board, and course materials (e.g., books). There are restrictions on their ability to generate outside income, while the schools generally are receiving income as a result of the athletes’ performance on the school’s behalf.

Stipends — token payments to the students in addition to the above, which has a value of a few hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars — have long been discussed, but the National Collegiate Athletic Association has been slow to act.

Perhaps California’s new law will change that.

The California — and possibly Pennsylvania — law may change something else, too: The schools in states that enact such laws may be left out of postseason competition, if not the NCAA itself, for acting against the organization’s bylaws.

Like it or not, the NCAA rules the roost in that category. And Penn State fans will be mighty unhappy if they are booted out of bowl season — or the wrestling team tanks — because the legislature chooses to defy the NCAA.

The law, which is hardly fair, allows star athletes — who got that way because of the university — to generate income by selling themselves, the way the pros can. They aren’t paying to play, they’re being paid more for playing.

It won’t be based on seniority or experience. Dan Chisena (who?) is not in the same market as Micah Parsons (both Penn State football players, in case you were wondering).

Why Harrisburg is jumping on this bandwagon we can’t understand.

Push the NCAA to offer more to players, or at least allow colleges to.

Give all players a share of “name and likeness” revenue (which the schools and NCAA generate), the way pro leagues have revenue sharing.

Guarantee their scholarships in the event of injuries (and insure them, too).

But don’t poke tigers with sticks — the victims could be the very kids you think you’re helping.


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