Making Their Own Deal

The NCAA, under pressure, agreed that college athletes could make money from their name, image, or likeness (NIL). After concern expressed by the U.S. Department of Justice, the NCAA delayed a decision about how the NIL policy would be implemented. In spite of the delay, universities began their own planning for how to implement the NIL policy to ensure that they remained competitive in the recruitment of athletes.

In most cases, universities tentatively entered into exclusive agreements with sports marketing companies to represent all athletes on campus. Those companies had experience with big name professional athletes and had considerable success in generating revenue from their NIL rights. In contrast, they had limited experience with lesser known athletes especially in low-or non-revenue generating sports.

The women at one university decided to revolt against signing on to an exclusive license agreement for their NIL. They announced their intention to sign to a company that promised to take a new approach to NIL. The company had considerable experience with models, actresses, and other women. They were successful in monetizing NIL through sex appeal. Their work was not pornographic, but they took a glamour approach to NIL marketing.

The university objected to the women athletes’ interest in striking their own deal. The concerns were presented in terms such as the NIL agreement would objectify the women athletes. The university administration enlisted the support of progressive women groups on campus to oppose the agreement. In spite of the progressive sounding rhetoric, the real concern of the university was the impact that a separate agreement for women athletes would have on the exclusive agreement which it hoped to sign. The lack of exclusivity would generate less income opportunities for higher profile athletes (almost entirely men).

Is the university’s concern with a separate agreement for women equitable? When we think of equity, how do we balance individuals’ ability to do what’s best for them vs. the leverage gained from collective bargaining of rights? Can collective agreements ever be equitable? How much equity might be ceded for the benefit of all?

What right should an organization have in making decisions which are inequitable for some in the organization? And how do we judge whether something is inequitable? Who should make the decisions to ensure they are equitable?

Just imagine the new horizons of equity that are emerging in our society? What new dimensions of equity should we be anticipating? Just imagine how equity judgements will enter into virtually every policy choice we face (e.g. collective bargaining, immigration, healthcare, etc.)? Just imagine whether we think of equity as a collective concern or as an individual concern?

* * *

“The difference between equity and equality is that equality is when everyone gets the same thing and equity is when everyone gets the thing they deserve.” – DeRay McKesson (Civil Rights activist)

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.