SEC Country just released part of an interview with college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit that was conducted back in November. In it, Herbstreit makes a stink about the continued absence of the NCAA Football video game, which was shelved by Electronic Arts after Ed O’Bannon sued the NCAA for profiting off the names and likenesses of unpaid athletes, a racket that NCAA Football certainly helped perpetuate by not paying a licensing fee to athletes featured in the game. Herbstreit’s opinion is that this is all bunk, and that they should just bring the dang game back.
Here’s Herbstreit, whose likeness was previously featured (and almost assuredly paid for) in the game:
“Every single college football player,” he said. “You know what they’d love for their compensation to be? Just give ‘em a free game. That’s the compensation that they would take.
“I’ve never met one player in college football that’s like: ‘They can’t use my name and likeness! I need to be paid!’ They’re just thrilled to be on the game. They love being on the game. It’s like the biggest highlight of their life, is to be on the game.”
“Ed O’Bannon ruined that for all of us,” Hebstreit says. “And hopefully we can get that fixed.”
Herbstreit appears to have been harboring these feelings for a while:
Apple MacBook Air Laptop
The M1 chip delivers 3.5x faster performance than the previous generation all while using way less power. Get up to 18 hours of battery life.
It’s obviously stupid for Herbstreit to speak on behalf of all college athletes and claim that none of them want to be paid for having their likenesses used in a very expensive video game, but this is still a bad opinion even if his assumption is correct. Of course college football players are going to be thrilled to be in a video game—video games are cool!—but that in no way excuses EA’s obligation to pay them. In fact, using a person’s enthusiastic participation as an excuse to deny them compensation is definitionally a form of exploitation.
Just to assure everyone that he’s not being a massive hypocrite here, Herbstreit tweeted that he’d be willing to appear in the game without being compensated:
That’s an easy stance for a man who gets paid a lot of money to talk about college football on TV to take. I imagine Herbstreit would be in a less charitable mood if his ESPN salary were to suddenly be replaced by free room and board and a bit of spending money.