Could the return of college football video game pressure efforts for student-athletes to get paid?

EA Sports announces college football is coming back
EA Sports announces college football is coming back(WAFB)
Updated: Feb. 2, 2021 at 10:40 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Social media was buzzing after EA Sports announced it would be reviving its popular College Football video game.

But the news isn’t just about a new game.

The words from EA on Twitter, “College Football is coming back,” had video gamers and football fans in a frenzy.

“It’s an exciting time, especially for collegiate programs, and where they are in spaces for each sport, and as far as scholastic gaming is concerned,” said Coach Chris Turner, head coach and general manager of the ESports program at both Southern Lab and Southern University.

Turner created the Esports program at Southern University. It’s the first Esports pipeline in the country to stretch from kindergarten to graduate school students. The program allows students an opportunity to earn scholarship money while competing in video games.

“When you have like an LSU Esports team and you have a Southern University team, where we can kind of meet up on the e-field, and play matches and go for scholarship dollars, and win championship trophies. So, it’s an exciting time,” said Turner.

According to CBS News, EA Sports says the new game would not include rosters with names, images or likeness of any student-athletes.

This comes after a group of college athletes sued the NCAA and EA Sports for using their appearances in the video games back in 2013.

“As a kid growing up, there are two things that you wanted to do, you wanted to play big-time football, and you wanted to be on the video game,” said Darry Beckwith, former Butkus Award Finalist for LSU Football back in 2008.

In 2019, NCAA officials opened the door for student-athletes to benefit financially from the use of their name, image, and likeness, and to possibly sign endorsements while in college. But there hasn’t been much movement on it since.

Beckwith believes this could open the door for more conversations around college athletes getting paid for their talents.

“If the school is capitalizing off that, I don’t see what the big deal is for a kid to get paid. I know the argument is always well they’re getting their college tuition paid for, and I agree. But also, if you go back and when they’re in high school, it’s not their fault that they put themselves in a position academically and athletically to have that school paid for,” said Beckwith.

CBS News is reporting the Supreme Court is expected to hear a dispute between the NCAA and student athletes this Spring. EA Sports is monitoring that case.

EA Sports says it could be a couple of years before the game comes out.

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