Tebow Panties Put NCAA Rules in a Wad
Already the University of Florida has forced the sales staff to take down an unauthorized picture of Tebow, and now the panties, which took these here Internets by storm last week, have to sell their product without the Great One's likeness.
But is anyone else troubled by the irony of the University of Florida, they of the Tim Tebow No. 15 jerseys that are available across the country, profiting off Tebow while Tebow himself can't?
It's time for players to get some say in what the university's who sell their jerseys do with the money they literally make off the player's back. NCAA regulations forbid a player from profiting off his own jersey sales. We can argue about whether or not that makes sense, personally I think it's a fig-leaf that merely shifts the money-making from the player to the university; but why can't we split the difference? Allow a player like Tebow the ability to direct the profit from jersey sales that feature his number to a charity of his choice.
There was a time when finding a popular player's college jersey was difficult. Growing up as a fan of the Tennessee Vols one of the only places I could get a No. 54 Dale Jones jersey was in the Tennessee bookstore. That was before college football merchandising became a global business. Colleges weren't making quite as much money off of their players back then, so the jersey sales fig-leaf wasn't as big of a joke. By the time I was 11 years old, Heath Shuler No. 21 jerseys were easily ordered via mail. I got one for Christmas. Even back then, via mail order, the sale of college football jerseys was mostly a regional market.
But then college football went national and created their own superstars.
Two weeks ago I went to my local Nashville mall. Five different stores carried the Tebow jersey.
Now, before we go any further, I'll take the time to point out that Tebow's actual name isn't on the back of the Gators No. 15 jersey. This is what allows Florida and Nike (the Gators' jersey supplier) to profit off the jersey sales. But every single one of us knows that he's the crown prince of college football and the No. 15 jerseys are selling because of him. Even without his name. Don't believe me? How about typing in Tim Tebow jersey on Amazon. Yep, a variety of jerseys come up. Surely, you can't go to the Florida Gators official team Web site store and type in "Tim Tebow jersey" and easily find the jersey of your choice direct from the Gators? That couldn't be possible, they're just selling the jersey, not the player who wears the jersey.
Except ... you can. Twelve different versions. From $43.95 to $150.00.
So let's stop arguing that we're drawing any real distinction because the name doesn't appear on the back of the jersey. Before Tim Tebow, no one owned a No. 15 Gators jersey. I'd question whether they'd even sold a single No. 15 Gators jersey in any store. And if they did, certainly you couldn't walk into tens of thousands of sporting goods stores across the country and buy one right off the rack. My point isn't that colleges shouldn't be allowed to sell these products, it's just that the Teebow panties are a natural outgrowth of the hypocrisy that exists when the NCAA doesn't allow a college kid any ability to control his image.
Obtuse and complicated NCAA regulations are a lawyer's dream because enforcing and applying their amateur rules requires everyone to dance on a pin needle's accuracy, there' s a hair-breadth of a distinction between being in line with the letter of the regulation and falling by the wayside.
If Tim Tebow played professional baseball, basketball, or soccer, his baseball, basketball, or soccer jersey could be sold with his name on it. But he'd retain his athletic eligibility to play college football because he hadn't played pro football, just gone pro in those other sports. So you'd have a situation where Tim Tebow pro baseball, basketball, and soccer jerseys were all perfectly legal if they had his name on the back of them, but Tim Tebow college football jerseys would be illegal.
Seriously, is this not a ludicrous and arbitrary line being drawn in the sand?
And it's not just Tebow, he's merely the most popular college football player in America. Believe me, it's no coincidence that the best players on every college team have their jerseys for sale. No matter which team you root for, head to the online store and see what jerseys are available. Type in the player's name and add jersey at the end. Chances are their Web sites will return the same type of results that the Florida site did. The team Web sites aren't even disguising the hypocrisy. Why not go ahead and end the amateur sham, the fig-leaf of absurdity, when it comes to college jersey sales?
I understand the fairness argument, that some players' jerseys would sell many more than others, so the money wouldn't be equally distributed to the players. That's why I wouldn't actually transfer the money to the particular player, just allow him to distribute the money to a charity of his choice. And I understand the university argument that they own the number and the jersey, the player doesn't. So they and their sponsors should be entitled to the profits. I just don't buy it.
While a kid is a college star, the university is making millions of dollars off a player. Would it really be outside the spirit of the rules for that player to be capable of directing the profits from his jersey sales, profits that he's earned by hard work, dedication, and success on the field, to a charity that he thinks is worthy? The player's not getting the money then, but at least then he can see a tangible result for the appropriation of his image.
Isn't that a rule that could make an awful lot more sense than the present system? No, that's not a Tim Tebow jersey, that's a Florida Gators No. 15 jersey. Wink, nod, and elbow to the ribs. Lord knows the NCAA gets their panties in a wad pretty often over minor infractions, why not clear one up for a change?