Feb 12, 2021 | SPORTS | By Quinn Guevara | Illustration by Xixi Qin

EA Sports has innovated sports video games for more than 20 years. They are responsible for some of the most popular sports video games of all time. Hockey, soccer, and football are the big three for EA sports, with their games being fan favorites across the world.

“World of Chel,” in their hockey games, allows you to play as your created player against others across the world in different arcade game modes. “FIFA Ultimate Team” allows you to collect some of your favorite players from across different eras and leagues in the world to compete on the pitch against other teams filled with all stars. In “Madden,” you can create your own player, get drafted, and begin your campaign to Canton, breaking every record along the way.

Along with these games, the discontinued NCAA college football game once reigned supreme. Eight years ago, EA installed its final game in the series —  “NCAA College Football ’14.”  Later that year, after its release, EA announced that it would no longer be making the games.

However, last week, top executive Cam Weber said that EA has been “eager to bring a new game to the players in the next couple of years.” Pressures that led to the game’s discontinuation included “ongoing legal issues combined with increased questions surrounding schools and conferences [that] left us in a difficult position,” Weber said. A lot of these questions arose with Title IX. Would student-athletes be paid for the use of their names in the video game?

The NCAA does not allow student-athletes to receive any payment for playing sports or going to an institution to play their sport. Since the cancellation of the college football video game, scandals have erupted across the country and various sports, regarding schools’ payment of their athletes.

In 2017, the Louisville men’s basketball head coach, Rick Pitino, was fired and put under investigation for paying recruits to play at the University of Louisville. A few years later, college basketball prodigy Zion Williamson was under investigation for accepting money from sponsors to play at college basketball powerhouse Duke University. In college football, Power Five teams, specifically the University of Alabama, have been constantly under investigation for bribery and paying football players to play for their school.

For many schools and athletic programs the big question remains: will student athletes get paid for having their name and likeness used in the game?  

“Athletes should have every right to make money on name, image and likeness,” Barstool Sports blogger Bobby Reagan said. “I agree schools pay them enough with a scholarship and everything that goes there. But the NCAA can’t cap them at that.”

Former and current student-athletes have spoken out on the issue, as well. Their main argument is that since they bring so much money to their respective schools — between ticket revenue, TV rights, and merchandise — they should be compensated more than just scholarship money.

The re-emergence of the college football video game has made this issue more pressing than ever. Consequently, a “College Athletes Bill of Rights” will be presented to the U.S. Congress to discuss whether these athletes should be paid more than just scholarship money. According to the NCAA, because these young superstars are students first, they cannot and should not be paid more than scholarship money for an education.

If the legal rights can be figured out, sports and video game fans across the world will be able to play as their favorite players in college, as well as to potentially play as their former school. Reagan seems to speak for most fans of this popular game. “This better be real,” Reagan said. “I can’t take a tease like this. NCAA Football and NCAA Basketball need to come back. I’m missing them more than anything in 2021.”

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