'College Football Video Games Are Done'

Matt Connolly for Mother Jones, on why EA is pulling the plug on its NCAA Football franchise:

The dispute in question is a far-reaching one that experts say could fundamentally change the way college athletics are run. It began in 2009 with two former college athletes—ex-UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon and ex-Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller—filing lawsuits against the NCAA, the Collegiate Licensing Company (which handles trademark licensing for the NCAA and about 200 colleges), and EA. The lawsuits were eventually consolidated and began to snowball, with other athletes joining in or filing suits of their own.

Because college athletes are amateurs, the NCAA forbids them from using their status or fame to profit it any way (taking compensation, the thinking is, would make them professionals). That’s what would have prohibited Heisman-winning Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel from theoretically accepting money in exchange for autographs, and it’s what got Ohio State in trouble when players received cash and free tattoos in exchange for rings, jerseys, and other memorabilia. Colleges, similarly, can’t monetize the likenesses of current athletes. Texas A&M can sell a No. 2 football jersey, but if that jersey can’t say “Manziel” on the back.

Let’s see: the NCAA can (and does) rake in hundreds of millions of dollars, mostly television revenue, off their student-athletes, yet the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny Manziel, is forbidden to take money for signing autographs? Yeah, that’s fair.

College football fans everywhere should be outraged at the hypocrisy.