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What College Athletes and Students think of California’s ‘Fair Pay to Play Act’

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Texas wide receiver Devin Duvernay (6) celebrates a touchdown reception with quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) against Oklahoma State.

By Hayley Babbitt

California, a state that is more often than not at the center of debate when it comes to government policy, is in the spotlight again. This time, for taking steps to allow college athletes to get paid to play their involvement in sports. 

Earlier this month, California lawmakers approved the Fair Pay to Play Act, or SB 206, that allows college athletes in the state to profit from their name, likeness, and image. The bill is now in the hands of Gov. Gavin Newsom. 

According to a Sept. 10 article in the Los Angeles Times, the bill would result in players “(earning) money from the use of their names, images and likenesses.” Because of this ground-breaking news, The Collegiate set out to see what college athletes here in West Michigan think about the possibility of this bill passing.

Oscar Schott, a 19-year-old former high school football player and student at Calvin College, said he can understand both sides of this debate that hits close to home given he is from the Bay Area in California. 

“Well, it’s a difficult thing to assess as right or wrong,” Schott said. “Universities don’t have standardized benefits for their athletes as it sits right now, so a pay grade could equalize the treatment athletes get.” 

Schott said he favors a plan that would standardize pay.

“Some might get better financial packages for playing at certain schools so wiping that out and having a stipend that is (in) accordance to the league and performance of the school could be more fair”. 

Dalton Vander Ark, a freshman student and member of the GRCC baseball team, also weighed in on the Fair Pay to Play Act.

“As a college athlete, I, myself, believe that college athletes don’t necessarily need to be paid,” Vander Ark said. “But I think that there should be more opportunities for more scholarships, and I believe that there should be more opportunities for athletes to go straight to (the) pros right after college.”

Since the previous interviews with athletes Schott and Vander Ark, the state of New York is taking similar steps to allow college athletes to be paid. 

According to a Sept. 18 article in Sports Illustrated, Sen. Kevin Parker proposed Senate Bill S6722A. Now that multiple states are involved in the pressing debate on whether or not students will receive pay for playing sports in college, the conversation has amplified.

“Being a college athlete is a job,” said Dallas Mora, 19. “The amount of time that we put into practicing and games or matches builds up, and payment seems fair.”

As a member of the GRCC cross country team during the 2018-2019 season, Mora said he supports the bill that New York is proposing. 

“It takes the timeslot of a full-time job, and therefore it is only right for them to be paid,” he said. 

Jake West, a student at Central Michigan University and participant in intramural sports within the college, takes another side in the conversation.

“There is no reason for college athletes to be getting paid, and many of them already have scholarship money for this reason. These (scholarships) are basically their form of payment already.”

You can read the California bill here, and the New York bill here. Weigh in on the conversation by posting a comment below.

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