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Manziel (Unintentionally) Exposing Archaic Problems

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The rule by which the NCAA slapped Johnny Manziel on the wrist is archaic and should be repealed. Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images.
The rule by which the NCAA slapped Johnny Manziel on the wrist is archaic and should be repealed. Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images.

What could they have found to suspend Johnny Manziel for a half a game?

Bylaw 12.5.2.1 — that’s cute. A bylaw that states student athletes cannot permit their names or likenesses to be used for commercial purposes, including advertise, recommend or promote sales of commercial products, or accept payment for the use of names or likeness.

The NCAA is culpable just the same or even more. Only a month ago, anyone could search a college player’s name, and his jersey would come up. Search Manziel and a Texas A&M jersey with the number two appeared. That’s not name or likeness because it doesn’t have his name on the jersey — just on the search … right?

If they found that Manziel was receiving money for his autographs, he should suffer a real suspension, not unlike what some of the Ohio State players took. Remember when Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor had to enter the supplemental draft due to suspensions?

Manziel was guilty or he wasn’t, and yet he appears to have gotten a half-guilty sentence. Missing half a game for Rice is hardly a punishment. Heck, I bet he is excited that he is not risking getting injured in a warm-up game. It will be like an NFL preseason game, except better. He will only play half the game, and he’ll be in the game when his team wins.

The sentencing was a cop out. Though I hope it was for all the right reasons. A thousand things could have happened but perhaps the NCAA realized that they weren’t going to be able to find enough evidence on Manziel before the season ended. Taking someone’s national championship trophy away from their star asset never looks good for a sport. I say “asset” because in many ways, that’s what Manziel is. He’s a massive moneymaker for the sport. He’s a living reality show.

On average, SEC teams make 14.6 million dollars on TV broadcast rights, according to ESPN. In 2008, before A&M joined the SEC, the team made more than 30 million dollars on ticket sales.

The teams are not netting NFL revenue, but then again, the teams aren’t paying their players. Sure, players get free tuition, which is $9,006 dollars for in state and $25,626 for out of state, according to the Texas A&M website. The student-athletes likely get free housing. The full breakdown is here.

But to what degree are they really getting a college education? Many apply themselves, though others get enveloped by the full-time work of a college football player. And for those, what use is going to the NFL with only three years of a college education? Being a student-athlete is hard work, and it’s dangerous work. Players may never see an NFL field because of the concussions that they sustain in college.

The ruling on Manziel only exposes the massive flaw in the college system. Manziel’s family may be rich and not need the money, but thousands of other players need cash. Why shouldn’t they be able to profit off their own talents?

A talented mathematical student, brought in on an academic scholarship, is allowed to get a part time job as a math tutor, employed by the school. A scholarship biology student can do research for a large university and is paid for their work.

Yet the position of student-athlete — more dangerous and profitable than those two positions — is unpaid. Unfortunately, the NCAA will never make the change on their own. The money is too damn good. The have a massive labor force indentured into their servitude. The players cannot go play somewhere else. That would be a terrible career choice.

The best chance of instituting a pay-for-play system would be a college player’s labor union. It would be a collegiate revolution. Something must be done.