Keenan Hairston’s Photo of Zion Williamson.
Keenan Hairston’s Photo of Zion Williamson.

Show Me the Money: Is it College Athlete Payday?

Zion Williamson. Photo Credit: Keenan Hairston from Raleigh/CC BY-SA.
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About This Episode

On this episode of StarTalk Sports Edition, we try and unravel the tangled mess that is college athletics. To pay or not to pay is the question. And the answer is not so simple. Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice are ready to investigate the future of college sports alongside experts that are right on the pulse of what’s happening today. 

To start, you’ll hear from Ellen Staurowsky, EdD Ellen is a professor of Sports Management at Drexel University. She is also co-author of the book College Athletes for Hire: The Evolution and Legacy of the NCAA Amateur Myth. Ellen tells us why the value of college athletes is way higher than people think. We discuss the “fallacy of amateurism.” Find out if there is any push back from the NCAA. You’ll hear about the 2014 lawsuit O’Bannon v NCAA and what it taught us about “pay to play.” You’ll also hear about California’s recent “Fair Pay to Play Act.” 

Then, Andrew Zimbalist, PhD joins in on the conversation. Andrew is an economist, the Robert A. Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College, co-author of Unwinding Madness: What Went Wrong with College Sports and How to Fix It, and author of Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-time College Sports. You’ll learn how the rise of social media and influencer culture has impacted the opportunities for college athletes. Discover more about ‘Name, Image, and Likeness’ (NIL) and why this concept could prove to be lucrative for players. 

What about the opposite side of the argument? Would “pay to play” create economic disparity between star athletes and teammates? Would it disproportionately reward male athletes over female athletes? Could college programs offer “life assistance” or tuition for life? Andrew explains why collective bargaining is pretty much off the table for a lot of the biggest programs in college.

In our last segment, Neil and Chuck give their final thoughts on the state of college athletics today. They ponder whether or not race factors into the decision-making process. Neil shares why he thinks that college teams should be treated like farm teams of minor league baseball. All that, plus, Chuck tells us why he thinks the new California law will create a domino effect with other states. 

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In This Episode

  • Host

    Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Neil deGrasse Tyson
    Astrophysicist
  • Co-Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
    Comedian
  • Co-Host

    Gary O'Reilly

    Gary O'Reilly
    Broadcaster, Sport Analyst, former Footballer
  • Guest

    Ellen Staurowsky

    Ellen Staurowsky, EdD
    Professor of Sports Management at Drexel University, co-author of College Athletes for Hire: The Evolution and Legacy of the NCAA Amateur Myth
  • Guest

    Andrew Zimbalist

    Andrew Zimbalist, PhD
    Robert A .Woods Professor of Economics at Smith College, co-author of Unwinding Madness: What Went Wrong with College Sports and How to Fix It, and author of Unpaid Professionals: Commercialism and Conflict in Big-time College Sports

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