Monday's signing of the California Fair Pay To Play Act into law is generating overwhelming support from the liberal sports media establishment. Starting in 2023, state universities in California will begin allowing college athletes to profit financially off their names, images and likeness ― opposing NCAA rules and setting up a major conflict with the association that governs U.S. college sports. The Nation magazine's progressive sports editor Dave Zirin took advantage of the controversy to bludgeon the Republican Party and by bringing "plantation politics" into the issue.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the act into law Monday on LeBron James' HBO program The Shop (see photo of James on right and Newsom, left). The NCAA, along with athletic directors from Ohio State and Wisconsin, came out swinging at the California law, claiming it will lead to a patchwork of different rules in different states and create unlevel playing fields. There was also talk of not scheduling competition against California schools and even booting them out of the NCAA. Nevertheless, lawmakers in South Carolina, Washington, Florida, New York and Colorado are considering legislation similar to California's.
But Zirin went to the lowest and most political of the many writings I reviewed on the subject.:
"The NCAA—about as amoral a cartel as exists this side of the GOP—has issued all the threats. If players had the right to earn money off of their names, images, and likenesses, they argue, the entire college sports system would effectively implode. They thundered this repeatedly in the direction of California Governor Gavin Newsom, but it didn’t stop him from signing SB-206, which passed unanimously in the California state Senate. The bill, also known as the Fair Pay to Play Act, allows college athletes to get a cut of the profit they generate with their labor."
Not content with dragging the Republicans he hates through the mud, Zirin brought in a race-baiter to further dirty the waters. He contacted Ben Carrington, a law professor at the University of Southern California who also teaches classes on the intersection of sports and society. The professor will have everyone believing college athletes, with their free education, travel and other perks, are practically "slaves."
Carrington told Zirin that, "We’ll be ashamed and embarrassed, a decade from now, about how we allowed a system that exploited the sporting labor of predominately young African American men (they are not ‘kids’), whilst their surplus value went into the pockets of overwhelming white male coaches and Athletics Directors, of how they were treated differently from everyone else on campus because somehow, this Victorian upper-class idea of ‘amateurism’ applied to the student athletes, and the student athletes only."
"As Taylor Branch famously put it, college sports in America has the ‘whiff of the plantation’. Well today we saw a way off that plantation. Student athletes finally being given rights to see themselves as having collective interests and the ability to exercise control over how their images and likeness is used and to get paid to coach if they want to. This is huge."
Ever the partisan agitator, Zirin attacked Wisconsin Republican lawmakers for "erasing" Colin Kaepernick earlier this year. He's blistered President Donald Trump frequently, here, here and here, for example.