College athletes’ amateur status is one of the most hotly and constantly debated topics in NCAA sports today. Or perhaps debate isn’t exactly the right word anymore. For a long time it was a heated debate; now, there’s clear momentum toward the idea that college athletes should be paid, even if the NCAA is still resistant to change.
Ultimately though, we may see change. Sports Illustrated wrote about California’s “Fair Pay to Play” bill just last year, and suggested that it could signal the beginning of the end of amateurism. The bill paves the way for athletes to earn money off their names, images, and likenesses (meaning everything from jersey sales, to autographs, to video game appearances. And it could eventually lead to a more serious discussion about ending amateurism altogether.
For the athletes, this would clearly be a major event. But for us as fans, too, there would be a lot of fun consequences — mostly having to do with gaming. To that point, and in the hopes that we will see an end to amateurism soon, we thought up a few particularly cool outcomes college football fans would enjoy if NCAA players were suddenly able to profit off their likenesses across the board….
1.) The EA Sports NCAA Series May Return
We used to look to the EA Sports NCAA gaming series for player and team ratings, preseason simulations, and all kinds of fun gaming throughout each season. But that series has been out of commission for years now, and is unlikely to return in any kind of satisfying form until amateurism is done away with. When NCAA players can profit off their likenesses though, it’s possible that EA Sports will strike a deal that results in those players being paid to appear in an NCAA football series. It may take a few years, but suffice it to say there’s no reason for EA Sports NCAA Football not to return in a post-amateurism world.
2.) We’d See Awesome NCAA Mobile Games
It’s hard to beat the idea of a return of the EA Sports series — particularly on next-gen consoles that would have gameplay vastly superior to what we’re used to from the series as it was. But mobile sports games add their own value, particularly in that for a lot of sports there are awesome management simulations. We imagine that with amateurism abolished, players’ names and likenesses could also be used in simpler games like these. Perhaps some would allow you to become coach of your favorite program manage practices, lineups, and tactics, and even recruit new players over time.
3.) Football Could Make It Into Slot & Casino Games
There’s also a good chance we could get some really inventive and enjoyable casino games out of the situation. This might not be something we think about too much now, but in a Gala Spins write-up on some of the biggest, most popular games and jackpots, we see that games based on popular content are actually really common. There are slots and jackpots based on Wheel Of Fortune, The Dark Knight, action heroes like Jason Bourne and Iron Man, and even historical eras. There are also some games in this sprawling category based on various professional sports. Without amateurism, it’s relatively likely that NCAA football would get in on the action, and we’d start to see some fun casino games involving players and teams as well. For example, imagine spinning an arcade reel to land a lineup of All-Americans, and then winning an arcade-style football game to earn extra rewards. For a lot of fans, this would be an absolute blast.
4.) The eSports Landscape Would Be Incredible
When it looked earlier this year like college football might not happen due to COVID-19, it was said that the NCAA had whiffed on eSports. Indeed, without a season to play the NCAA could in theory have profited massively from hosting its own eSports competitions, with an EA Sports-like NCAA football game being used to play out the season among gamers. As it turns out, we do have college football this season. But that doesn’t make this idea any less exciting (or lucrative). A post-amateurism NCAA would almost certainly give rise to competitive college football eSports competitions, both during the real season and — crucially — in the offseason.
So, who’s ready for the end of amateurism?