JBA offers alternative to NCAA

Jordan Latimore, Sports Columnist

The big baller era of sports is officially upon us. During the summer of 2018, Lavar Ball—CEO and founder of Big Baller Brand — launched the Junior Basketball Association. The goal of the JBA is to provide young players who come out of high school with an alternative to the NCAA. Noticeable differences in Ball’s league from college hoops include more NBA-calibur training and stiffer competition. But, more uniqley, this league wants to pay its players $3,000 minimum per month.
It’s pretty obvious Lavar Ball created the JBA to grow his business and assist youth basketball players in trying to go pro. But it also an attempt to combat an NCAA regulations that have been subject to ongoing controversy and debate in regards to paying student-athletes.
“We’re going to pay them because someone has to pay these kids,” Ball said in an interview with SLAM magazine, “They shouldn’t be there with the NCAA trying to hold them hostage.”
The comments made by Ball and the creation of the JBA has influenced people into closely observe the NCAA — including myself.
“In 2017 alone, the NCAA made over $1 billion in basketball revenue,” Alex Kirshner, writer for SB Nation said.
During the annual NCAA March Madness Tournament, the NCAA holds thousands of advertisements; commission revenues skyrocket and millions of dollars worth of merchandise is sold. Based on the statistics, it’s fair to say the NCAA has created a successful business model, but the workers in this business do not get paid.
Yes, I know — student-athletes aren’t literally employed to the NCAA. But if these players generate means of wealth for the NCAA, why aren’t they compensated for it? To that question many people say they’re pay is in the form of scholarship.
According to Scholarship Stats, of the 351 Division I college basketball programs, an average of 13 of the 15 players per team have the cost of food, housing, tuition and many of the other expenses involved with college, covered by scholarship. The problem is that scholarships only cover those specific expenses. Players do not receive any allowance that they can use in order to meet their daily needs outside of school, such as taking care of their families living circumstance, or simply having a financial safety net to fall on when they get out of school.
On top of the NCAA capitalizing off of a player’s talent, they also penalize players who try to benefit off of their own success.
Donald De La Haye for example, was a kicker for the University of Central Florida football team who, during his junior season, was revoked of his athletic scholarship after he refused to stop monetizing his Youtube channel. Eventually he quit the team.
“They wanted me to give up the money I made, wanted me to take down my videos, which I worked so hard for and wasn’t comfortable doing,” De La Haye said in Youtube vlog.
In another example, Texas A&M football player Johnny Manziel, during his sophomore season, was suspended for the first half of the teams’ season opener against Rice University after he was found to be receiving money from autographed items he signed. In this case, the severity of the punishment isn’t the issue, its the fact a punishment was given in the first place.
Just as Donald De Haye did, Manziel simply took advantage of the athletic position he was in. If people are willing to pay to see these players perform, why should the NCAA have any right to decide if that player accepts that profit?
Look — I am not saying the NCAA should directly pay their student athletes, because implementing that system present many legal obstacles. But we also have to recognize these students-athletes are just kids trying to make money while still doing what they love. The risk of injury is too high and collegiate careers are too short to pass up on the opportunity to achieve financial earnings of this magnitude. Yet, the NCAA continues to deny student-athletes the right to exercise their financial interests.
This is where a league such as the JBA would benefit many young athletes. Providing players with an opportunity to receive advanced training have the freedom to market themselves at a young age is tremendously valuable. Along with others, I do not want the JBA to completely replace the NCAA because I think we can live in world where both leagues can co-exist.
If a player believes he has a good chance of getting to the NBA but is limited financially and wants to focus on basketball instead of school, he should have the option of becoming a big baller and join the JBA. If a player is not confident he will make a lot of money through the endorsements and if he prefers going to school, that player should be able to choose to play in college and earn an education.
Providing players with options that fulfill their needs and goals gives them flexibility to make decisions that are better for their futures.