First Amendment

Fox Fights Discovery

The following article was written by Cyle Kiger.

Paying student-athletes is a double edged sword that is an issue growing rapidly.  Collegiate athletes are, admittedly, exploited in many types of media.  In this case, Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson claim that Collegiate Licensing Co. (a partner of the NCAA) and Electronic Arts used their “names, images and likenesses” without payment.  Exploitation is achieved by the NCAA by requiring the athletes to sign a form each year to “relinquish in perpetuity all rights to the commercial use of their names and images, even after they graduate and are no longer subject to NCAA rules,” alleges the plaintiffs.

Is the NCAA business-savvy or is the association conducting unfair business in the ongoing antitrust case?  For instance, the NCAA is still making money on classic video games and on the Fox network with players names that have long been gone in the sports world.  With the constant revenue flow that the NCAA receives from media such as games and television and receiving the revenue without sharing with the players, it certainly points to being a business-savvy association, that operates under some  poor ethical decision making.

The plaintiffs have issued to discover all documents Fox has regarding the athletes.   Television corporations are allowed to broadcast sporting events freely without the consent of the players. Any rule against broadcasting, Fox states, “would severely infringe on the public’s First Amendment right of access to newsworthy events and matters of public interest. Indeed, as a practical matter, if a television network like Fox were required to obtain consent from, and compensate, every single athlete, coach, cheerleader, and spectator before broadcasting a sporting event, it would be impossible to continue televising sports.”  The athletes issued a discovery for every piece of material that mentions their names in the lawsuit. Fox says that the plaintiffs are on a “fishing expedition” and puts a burden on Fox who is a non-party in the lawsuit and therefore refused to give the plaintiffs any information that the non-party(Fox) had done any business with the NCAA.

As a student, I do not want to see the athletes get paid through stipend.  But it is hard to argue that the NCAA isn’t exploiting the athletes through video game sales to jerseys and tickets.  It would be nice to see the athletes form some sort of union to defend themselves against the NCAA.

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