Congress, Name, Image, Likeness and a College Football Union

Greg Arias

On Tuesday, Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, who attended recent Congressional meetings released an article entitled "Next Steps for a Federal Name, Image and  Likeness Bill Coming Into Focus" that takes a detailed look into what some in our nation's government is looking to do in the world of college athletics. 

Make no mistake, this is in no way an attack on the NCAA, who for the first time seems at least to be heading in the right direction by allowing players to benefit from their name, image, and likeness while participating in intercollegiate athletics. 

What this is is someone asking why in the world our nations Congress has to be involved in this whole thing?

As a nation we're are currently in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, where small businesses have been closed, people have lost jobs and unemployment skyrocketed at the heart of the initial shutdowns.  We've also witnessed social unrest where peaceful protests and rioting have been major headlines both internally and internationally. 

We are a country divided at our core over serious issues that need immediate attention, yet some of our elected officials see fit to stick their noses into this issue at this time. 

If things in our nation were in a better state overall, their involvement would seem ok, but in our current situation, wouldn't their time be better served working on issues that impact our entirety, rather than a small portion of our population. 

Student-athletes and their situation are not a trivial issue and deserve attention, but the NCAA, colleges, and perhaps, if necessary, the legal system should be able to work this out and leave the boys and girls in D.C. free to do what they were sent there to do.

This issue, while important and necessary, does not fit the bill for me personally at this moment in time and history. It seems like more governmental mismanagement when so many citizens are also hurting financially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Nevermind other national issues that seem more pressing. 

There have also been recent discussions of college athletes forming a union to advocate for their issues and rights. That seems to me like the best path forward for these issues. Players banding together to have their voices heard to the NCAA and their colleges and universities. 

Perhaps I'm naive, and just don't understand, but I feel our nation has other issues that should be at the forefront of our nations Congress right now.  

Dellenger wrote of comments from U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss,), who as the chairman of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, "he leads a powerful body that holds the most significant influence of any on Capitol Hill for college sports' most troubling issue: athlete compensation." 

  "I wonder if in the highly charged atmosphere we have between now and the election, with as many convention breaks and the appropriation bills that have to pass, if we could get to it—I just don't think we could," he tells SI. "After the election, I think we'll see some urgency to go ahead and get something done on a bipartisan basis. It shouldn't be a right vs. left issue. With the 2021 effective date approaching in some states, we'll need to act fast."

So there is a real chance that Congress might not even get to this issue before the November elections, meaning that their involvement has been mostly futile to this point and a waste of time where they could have been attending to other issues that should be ahead in priority.  

There is certainly a need to assure that college athletes in each and every state are treated equally and afforded the same abilities and protections, but now is not the time for Congress to be involved when they can't get this, or really any other issues resolved.   

NOTE: This is the opinion of the author and does not reflect anyone else with Sports Illustrated or its management. 

Follow Greg on Twitter @GregAriasSports and @SIVanderbilt or Facebook at Vanderbilt Commodores-Maven

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