Too Hurt to Earn

In light of Marcus Lattimore deciding to retire from the National Football League, I wanted to go all the way back to “Dispatches From the NCAA’s Deathbed” by Charles P. Pierce about the Ed O’Bannon trial. O’Bannon v. NCAA is an antitrust class action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Ed O’Bannon, a former basketball player at the University of California Los Angeles, filled this case to fight for financial compensation for someone’s image.

Marcus Lattimore was the best high school running back recruit in 2010, best football recruit in the state of South Carolina, and the 10th best recruit in the entire country. He committed to the University of South Carolina and was considered the best recruit in the history of the school. He was compared to Knowshon Moreno who is currently making 3 million dollars in 2014 in the NFL. Marcus Lattimore had an unbelievable freshman year at USC rushing for 1200 yards and 17 touchdowns. However, in 2011, Marcus Lattimore tore both his ACL and MCL in his left knee, but recovered and was able to continue his career. Then, in 2012, he tore all three-knee ligaments in his right knee and dislocated his right knee. At this point, it was thought Lattimore may never play again, but the San Francisco 49ers still drafted him in the 4th round because of the potential of him regaining his top-tier skill. However, on November 5th, 2014, Marcus Lattimore announced his retirement from the NFL without ever taking a snap.

Marcus Lattimore played his heart out for South Carolina. He led them to the SEC championship game. He built them into the program they are today. All of his hard work has “paid” off for others, but because Lattimore was too hurt, he was unable to ever get “paid” for his hard work.

In 2011, the University of South Caroline sold season tickets for $320 per person. Williams-Brice Stadium, South Carolina’s home stadium, holds 80,250 people. Even if they only sell half the seats in the stadium, $13 million dollars of revenue is earned that players like Marcus Lattimore do not see a penny of. I believe Lattimore should be compensated from money earned from people who pay to watch him play. However, under the scope of the O’Bannon case, compensation would not be paid because this would be directly related to Lattimore playing football. Still, the money raised by South Carolina is because of Lattimore and he deserves to see some of it.

In 2012, EA sports announced that NCAA Football 2012 broke a record for early sales by selling 700,000 copies in the first two weeks. Right off the bat, that is $42 million in revenue. Marcus Lattimore was a reason for a portion of that revenue, but he received zero dollars. If he were to be compensated for these sales, it would not be getting paid for playing football, but rather for his image, which is what O’Bannon is fighting for. By not compensating Lattimore, it is basically saying that because he is an amateur, he does not even own the right to his own name or image.

Marcus Lattimore is not a rare case of an athlete who should have earned millions, but was stalled by injuries. Unfortunately, these athletes wasted 3-4 years, and millions of dollars, by playing college sports in which they received no compensation for their hard work. Marcus Lattimore worked hard for South Carolina and EA Sports to make millions, but now will struggle for work to make thousands. Is it fair that they were able to exploit his talent to such a level that he will never be able to earn money off his own talent or name? No. The NCAA needs to change at some level, whether it is compensation for play or imagine. It must happen.

3 thoughts on “Too Hurt to Earn

  1. I completely agree with you that college athletes should be compensated for their work outside of the playing field. The fact that so much money is being generated off of them is truly astounding and something that should be changed. Now, for me, what it comes down to is how these athletes should receive compensation. It was shown that things such as video games generate a lot of money, but how do we decide how much a single player generated? How is it to be decided that a single person gets whatever amount of money? It should be a very tricky process that would need a difficult amount of research to be solved completely. Other forms of compensating, such as based off of jersey sales, will be easier to decide, but overall actually getting college athletes the proper compensation will be difficult.

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  2. College athletes should be compensated for their labor to the University. I think they should also have a form of health care, especially for football players. As you pointed out, Marcus Latimore suffered a career ending knee injury and his life will never be the same. He will no longer be able to play football, which means he has to find a new way of income but most importantly he will have to pay the medical bills for his knee injury for the rest of his life. His health is now a concern and I believe that the University should attest pay for their players medical expenses on top of paying them for their labor.

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  3. I definitely agree to an extent about the exploitation of athletes by the NCAA. What many people don’t know about this is that Lattimore does have an insurance policy he took out at South Carolina that he can now cash in on, and it is worth up to $1.7 million. While this likely isn’t as much as he would have made as an NFL running back, it’s still a considerable amount of money. Another way to look at this is the restriction of having to be in college for three years before turning pro. Many people believe after his freshman year Lattimore would have been drafted very high, but instead he was forced to stay an addition 2 years which likely cost him millions of dollars as well.

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