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One of the biggest debates this decade among those who follow college athletics is whether college athletes should be paid. Another is whether they should be able to profit off their own likeness.

These arguments continue to grow as players become increasingly well-known due to the development of social media and so many other sharing platforms. The sides of the arguments seem to have become the NCAA versus the athletes and the general public.

To me, it is not as much about the college athletes having a set salary as it should be about the athletes being able to profit off their likeness.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that NBA rookie Tyler Herro goes down in a pickup game while visiting Lexington and suffers a career-ending leg injury. Tyler Herro still gets his guaranteed money from his rookie contract, but will probably have to look in a different direction for a career. If Tyler Herro were able to make money off his likeness, businesses in this state would be able to have him in advertisements, as well as other Kentucky basketball players. This would profit not only the players, but businesses, the university, and so on. 

Athletes in colleges across the country could do the same and make money while their popularity is at its peak. 

Dennis Dodd, a writer for CBS Sports, shows a great example of this when discussing the EA Sports NCAA college football video game. This game hasn’t been available for years after Ed O’Bannon sued EA for using athletes’ naming rights without consent.

“If the players controlled their NIL, they theoretically could see the rights to the football game’s cover.” said Dodd. “Let’s say they get $20 million. Divide that number by the total number of FBS players (approximately 105 per team times 130 teams). That’s 13,650 players. That comes to an average of $1,465 per player.”

That number might not seem large, but to a college student it can make a difference. Even with scholarship money, and even for the future pro-bowl players who will make millions, it can still improve their quality of life in the immediate future.

If I, as a college student, am able to profit on my own likeness with no repercussions, than a college athlete who is dealing with a similar financial situation should too. 

The moment Kash Daniel or Ashton Hagans are in an advertisement promoting a restaurant in Kentucky, many people are going to want to go to that restaurant. In addition, the players are seen as human beings rather than just for the sports they play. In my opinion, the NCAA should acknowledge the benefits of providing college athletes with these opportunities here in this state and any other with a prominent college town.