California Passed A New Law Aimed At Sports Players: What Does It Mean?

Senate Bill 206 was recently signed into law by California Governor Gavin Newsom. SB206 at first glance doesn’t really seem to represent the liberal bastion where it was conceived: it provides college athletes with the ability to make money by using their name, image, and likeness. It also allows them to participate in and sign endorsement deals. The NCAA does not allow these rules, which puts the organization at odds with California’s new law.

But what does it all mean?

To the layman, it might sound like a way to make rich athletes richer — but contrary to popular belief, college athletes make little to nothing — if anything at all — and their schools generally profit substantially from these sports programs. The legislators want to give these impressive players the ability to earn their fair share, especially since not everyone will play professionally, at which point of course they would make significant income using those skills.

But the effort does not end there. Almost immediately after the new California legislation was signed into law, Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Miller and House Democrat Ed Gainey decided to use the precedent to position their own version of the bill, also called the Fair Pay to Play Act. 

Gainey said his bill will “capitalize on recent efforts in California to help balance the scales and allow our college athletes to sign endorsement deals, earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness, and sign licensing contracts that will allow them to earn money.”

Miller said, “The California success is sort of the ringing of the bell that we need to tilt this conversation into common sense reality. The future is starting in California. It’s time to roll. Let’s get Pennsylvania in play.”

Newsom believes that those paying attention to the issue should expect more nonpartisan efforts to be written and put into law, and soon. “I imagine you’ll see dozens more in the next few months,” he said.

“This is a nation-state, California. This is not a small, isolated state. This is a game changer.”

The NCAA is resistant to the slew of new laws. They released a statement following the California legislation, contending that lawmakers didn’t understand what effect their actions would have on the players or the sports. According to the statement, the laws would “make unattainable the goal of providing a fair and level playing field.”

But when has the playing field been level?

Sports economist Andy Schwarz said, “The belief that talent is fairly evenly distributed across the country is blatantly false. Alabama is probably a better path into the NFL, and that’s way more valuable for most athletes.”