Can’t we play nice?

Article Image Alt Text

Imagine Cam Mack on a fast break at PBA, a teammate way out in front for the easy slam, only in this world the Husker point guard keeps the basketball and shoots a long-range three.
Or Adrian Martinez on an option play down in the red zone, electing to keep the ball instead of pitching it to his running back, who had wide open turf to the end zone.
Or Lexi Sun pouting on the bench after being pulled out of a match, cutting down on her kill numbers.
Whether or not Cam or Adrian or Lexi make the plays isn’t the point. It’s the fact that they all of a sudden could become different players, ball hogs if you will, looking to pad their individual stats because of the almighty dollar. Me before we at the expense of the team. Such a scenario seems far fetched, and yet, maybe not.
Former Huskers Jeremiah Sirles and Isaiah Roby testified before the Nebraska State Legislature a couple weeks ago promoting LB 962, which says college athletes may get paid for their name, image and likeness, to profit from their identities.
California, if you remember, passed a similar bill a while back, and while it got some traction, not a lot has happened because it doesn’t go into effect until January 2023. Now at least 20 other states are considering similar action, including Nebraska.
So those few college athletes who, in theory, may profit from this new legislation, would be able to generate money while in college. But at what expense? What will that do for team morale, team leadership and, well, the team? Will it create jealousies? How will it be monitored? What will the locker room be like? Will it be just certain schools, giving them an unfair recruiting advantage? Will players still get paid if they sustain an injury? And where will it stop?
All questions I have no answers for.
Aurora resident and former Husker football player and Husker assistant coach Shane Thorell had even more thoughts.
“Recruiting is already crazy,” he pointed out, “so if a kid is looking to go to a certain school, they may have some big boosters who can afford to connect the kids to this company, or that company. They’re going to pay this amount. How does that look with the recruiting culture?
“Or a big booster who somehow communicates to a player in Florida, telling them, ‘come to Nebraska and we’ll make sure you’re the face of our advertising.’ And then you’re going to look at what’s fair, especially some schools in big metropolitan areas that have more advertising dollars.”
Ah yes, the almighty advertising dollar. Super Bowl commercials going for over $5 million; huge college football TV contracts; new Husker football offensive coordinator Matt Lubick’s $500,000 annual salary.  All big stuff.
So why can’t the players earn just a tiny piece of the pie, without singling the best ones out?
Another scenario that Shane pointed out would be if, for example, Nebraska recruits a player, develops that player into one of the best in America. That player then is lured to L.A. for some big endorsement money, much more than he could earn in Lincoln, Iowa City, Minneapolis, Norman, Boulder or even Ann Arbor.
“And then how is that dynamic going to look with coaches coaching their players,” Shane wondered. “A quarterback throws a couple interceptions, fans get on him. If they know he’s getting paid, they’re going to boo louder. I just don’t see enough positives. I want the players to not be exploited, but where do you draw the line?”
Discussions about paying players is nothing new. It’s been around for decades, except now, it seems to be gaining momentum.
“Ernie Chambers, in the late 70s, every year would bring legislation in the Unicameral to pay football players,” Shane reminded me. “Every year Coach Osborne would have to go down to the Unicameral and testify on why they can’t do that because of NCAA rules. So I guess Ernie was ahead of his time.”
My solution: let’s just all play nice. There’s money out there. Big money. Let’s give college athletes, all of them, from the scholarship players to the walk-ons, to the football players to the tennis players, a small portion of it. Make it fair. Keep it equal, and keep advertising dollars out of it. Just do it.
Let’s keep Cam being Cam, Adrian being Adrian, and Lexi being Lexi.
DAVE BRADLEY can be reached at

Rate this article: 
No votes yet