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A day before the Men’s NCAA Tournament begins, a number of athletes have taken to social media to declare that they are not NCAA property.

Not NCAA Property: College Athletes Unify Around Rallying Cry

Not NCAA Property. That is the message many college basketball players want you to hear the day before the men’s NCAA Tournament tips off.

Many players have taken to social media with #NotNCAAProperty on Wednesday declaring they deserve the right to their image and likeness.

College athletics has long been under the guise of amateurism, but as the popularity of some college sports has grown, the amateur aspect has become more of a label than a reality. Players in various sports have spoken out against the system in a number of ways over the years, and Geo Baker of Rutgers, Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon, and many others have started the latest charge, asserting themselves as not NCAA property, just one day before the 2021 Men’s NCAA Tournament is set to tip off.

Not NCAA Property: Players Speak Out

Baker concisely laid out his response to negative responses to these calls.

This is only a snapshot of the movement happening on social media now behind this hashtag. Many of the replies are positive and in support. Many, of course, are not, as anyone who has followed college athletics for even a few months should come to expect. There is a number of college sports fans who believe athletes receive enough compensation for their work through scholarships and stipends while adult coaches make millions, schools make multimillions, the NCAA rakes in billions, and it’s non-property makes a few hundred in stipends.

If you are one of those people, take a step back. You probably have a job, or at least have had a job at some point in your life. Imagine if the company you work for makes billions annually. Your boss, who runs your location, makes more than $1 million each year. Every March, all of your locations work together to create a giant even that singlehandedly provides your company with a billion dollars, of which you and your fellow employees only see less than 7 percent of. None of this could be possible without your hard work and dedication.

You excel at your job. Your company is well-known nationally, and you’ve done so well that you’re well liked among a good chunk of the population. They enjoy seeing you work, and they enjoy when you succeed. They pay money to support you and even wear the exact same uniform you do when you work in their show of support. They pay money to own that replica of your uniform.

In order to keep your job, you’re required to work almost every day of the week from fall through the spring, plus you have to be prepared to restart work the following year, so you need to get ready all summer long. To remain eligible for your job, you have to take a full-time class load. In return for your time, discipline, and bodily sacrifice, you may attend those require classes, which have nothing to do with your job, for free, which comes at virtually no cost to your employer. You are given housing, transportation, and food, as well as small stipends to help pay for small things you may need. If your location does well enough, you can win larger gifts, like game consoles and such.

Keep in mind, for the last year, you’ve also been asked to navigate all of this through a pandemic, even though your work forces to be within close proximity with people.

You company tells you that you’re being fairly compensated – that the business is given you more than enough. You wouldn’t be able to take those classes without them, and you wouldn’t have so many people chanting your name while you work if they didn’t provide you with that massive platform. You should be happy with what you have. Many people would love to be in your position. Who are you to ask for more? Besides, there isn’t enough money to pay you, they say as they push aside large piles of money and in between calls with corporations to sponsor your location with a branded name.

How would this make you feel? Would you find this fair? After all those hours of work that make the annual March event possible and put your location on national television, would you agree that you should be content with what you have?

Perhaps you’ve come up with a solution. You go to your company and ask that instead of a salary, you be allowed to use your name and likeness to make a buck. Your name is the one everyone who attends the big March event chants, not the company’s. The uniform they buy has your number on it. You could take a cut of those sales, plus you could sign deals with other companies that what to endorse your work – everybody wins.

Nope, sorry. That’s not allowed. You’re not working because you want to make a living. You’re working because you love work, and adding money into the equation would corrupt the purity of your work. You’re here because you love your work, right?

Sure, you could quit, but then what? End your career in what you’ve worked for and loved your entire life because you’ve been mistreated and underpaid? Leave behind your co-workers whom you’ve sweated with, bled with, and fought with for years so they can struggle in the same situation without you? Or would you fight for what you felt you were owed and deserved while still doing what you loved and keeping your opportunities in your beloved field open for a brighter future?

Remember this: if you are an employee somewhere, whether you make $8 an hour working something entry level or pull in $150,000 a year doing something white collar, you have much more in common with these players than you do the suits who populate NCAA offices. They are NCAA workers, not property, and like you, they are asking to be fairly compensated for their time and effort. You would ask for the same.

There are always a million reasons to not pay. I’m sure you’ve heard them told to you in your life – we don’t have the money, the economy isn’t doing well, you’re making enough, blah, blah, blah. And I’m sure you’ve shook your head and felt mistreated, abused, and used when people and entities have done this to you, all while you know you deserve so much more.

Put yourself in the players’ shoes, or understand that you’re probably already in them. It’s never too complicated for some people to reap those rewards, but not you. I wonder why.

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