“NCAA Football 14” is a videogame that allows the user to immerse themselves in the college football world.
Whether one wants to become the head coach of their favorite team or create a high school player who earns a scholarship to play for their dream school, “NCAA Football 14” provides a myriad of content that never fails to get old.
Despite being created six years ago, the game plays like a game created today, featuring fantastic graphics and an uber realistic physics engine.
It has a highly regarded status and almost has a cult classic-like following behind it, with YouTubers devoting enormous amounts of time to editing and uploading videos that feature its gameplay and a community of active “modders,” or people who alter the game, that attempt to update each team’s roster and stadiums every season.
Do not let its Metacritic user score of 6.3 out of 10 mislead you. “NCAA Football 14” provides a serious amount of content that separates itself from prior renditions of the game and establishes itself as one of the best football simulation games even to this day.
Yet, despite the popularity it sees today on the YouTube community and elsewhere, “NCAA Football 14” was the last game of its kind. Since then, no other games have been released. And rightfully so, as the NCAA profited off the likeness of the players it neglected to pay or ask for permission to use.
Before any professional athletes are included in other video game franchises such as the “Madden” franchise, a professional football videogame franchise, the league’s players association have to agree to let them use their image in the videogame.
Recently, for instance, the video game publishing company 2K Games reached an agreement with the National Football League Players Association to create football videogames with NFL players in them. This has threatened the monopoly that Electronic Arts, another videogame publishing company and publisher of the “Madden” franchise, has on the football videogame industry.
The catalyst for the end to the “NCAA” video game franchise began with a 2009 lawsuit ignited by a former UCLA basketball player, Ed O’Bannon. O’Bannon sued the NCAA for failing to compensate collegiate players after using their likenesses in videogames depicting them. In fact, it was not EA that did not want to pay the players; it was the NCAA itself.
This tidbit of information does not sound atypical. After all, the NCAA has attempted to and has successfully been curbing the ability for its athletes to make any semblance of money while larger universities extract millions of dollars from its players.
For instance, the term “student-athlete” was coined in the 1950s after a football-related death led to the widow seeking workers compensation. The NCAA was able to successfully argue to the Supreme Court of Colorado that the player did not qualify for workers compensation because his primary profession was not football. Thus, the student-athlete was born and since then, the NCAA has used this moniker as a means to not have to pay its athletes.
Taylor Branch, an American author, notes that the term student-athlete is intentionally ambiguous, and since the student-athletes “were high-performance athletes … they could be forgiven for not meeting the academic standards of their peers; that they were students meant they did not have to be compensated, ever, for anything more than the cost of their studies.”
Clearly, there are institutional problems with the NCAA, an organization that should prevent the continuation of games which use the likeness of players whom they will not pay. While the “NCAA Football” franchise is a beloved one, it is important to consider the implications of publishing and playing such a game.
For instance, it would set the precedent that the likeness of players down to everything but their names (including their hometowns, height, weight and so on) negates the NCAA’s and perhaps other similar entities’ responsibilities to provide compensation from those they profit from.
The legacy of the “NCAA Football” series provides an insight in the exploitation of the student-athlete, where players were and continue to be left uncompensated for their appearances in popular media.
It also revealed the larger problem with collegiate sports where players can jeopardize their futures, whether it be their professional sports future, academic future or their future health, to win competitions.
The entertainment value extracted from players’ efforts provide academic institutions and the NCAA with millions of dollars, yet these players see none of this at this time.