Johnny Manziel and the Autograph Scandal

Johnny ManzielI’ve posted about the rank hypocrisy of the NCAA often in the past but there’s another story in the news today and I can’t stop myself from trying to make my point yet again.

There is a young football star who plays for Texas A&M named Johnny Manziel. Johnny Football as he is called has had an eventful career considering he’s just heading into his sophomore season. He’s been kicked out of Peyton Manning’s football camp, he’s made several questionable tweets, and he seems to be a bit of a spoiled kid.

His latest transgression is apparently getting paid to sign autographs. At least there is the appearance of such although nothing has been proven. My argument here isn’t that he shouldn’t be judged until found guilty, my point is that if someone wants to pay him $10,000 to sign a couple of hundred autographs, who is the NCAA or anyone else to tell him he can’t?

If he is found “guilty” of getting paid he will lose his college eligibility and have to turn professional.

Those who support the NCAA in this will say that it’s their organization and they get to make the rules. I think there is some truth to this argument. If a private organization makes a rule that you’re not allowed to say, wear red on Thursdays, and you choose to do so, they can kick you out of the club. They make the rules, you knew the rules going into the situation.

What bothers me about this particular rule is that the NCAA says a player cannot make any money off his name but the University sure can. Texas A&M sold football helmets with Manziel’s signature for $13,000 a helmet. They sold seats at the table where he will sit for $5,000 a seat. They have a plan to improve the stadium to the tune of $450 million dollars with seating for over 100,000 and a large number of luxury suites starting at $64,000 and a top end so high they aren’t saying (sold out by the way).

This is not all because of Manziel but he’s a big part of it, as are his teammates.

The situation is so inequitable it boggles the mind. Libertarians like me will argue that the player’s don’t have to play but this is not really an option. There is no competition. The NCAA is the only game in town. Let’s say one University allowed the players to sell autographs. You can bet they’d immediately get all the top recruits.

The NCAA and the universities are essentially colluding against the players. It’s in their best interest to keep the players from getting any money, so they rig the game to make it impossible to play anywhere else. What would you say if the NFL attempted to pass this rule? What’s amazing is that it doesn’t apply to non-athletes. When Natalie Portman was at Harvard she made a lot of money acting in movies, as have many other young actors who chose the college life. Many students have jobs but athletes are not allowed.

The NCAA mumbles about protecting the game but it’s about protecting their greed. I’m not saying the NCAA and the universities are wrong to make money, more power to them, they provide a great product that people want to see. That’s capitalism. I love it.

I want the players to reap that reward also, it’s the fair thing to do, the right thing to do, the ethical thing to do, and the American thing to do.

In the immortal words of Otter, “We’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water ($2.99 for a full length eBook)
Upcoming Release: The Spear of the Hunt

3 thoughts on “Johnny Manziel and the Autograph Scandal

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