Entertainment

The NCAA Is Ready To Abandon Its Outdated Beliefs: College Athletes Will Now Be Able To Reap Gains On Endorsement Deals

Every year billions of dollars are generated off the backs of an unpaid labor force: college athletes. Universities take advantage of athletes’ amateur status to pocket the profits of what has turned into an exploitative world of high-revenue college sports. But legislators are forcing college sports to find fairer alternatives.

The NCAA announced yesterday that it voted in favor of letting college athletes profit from their name, image, and likeness.

twitter@NCAA

The Board of Governors of the NCAA, which oversees college sports, announced yesterday that it had voted unanimously to adjust rules that prohibited players from generating money from their own fame. The move came after lawmakers in several states began proposing or enacting legislation that gives college athletes the right to profit off their name and likeness. 

Last month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the Fair Pay to Play Act, giving college athletes the ability to earn income from endorsements and sponsorships starting in 2023. 

The legislation bypassed a National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA) ban on players receiving any compensation aside from scholarships. At the time, NCAA regulations disallowed student athletes from executing any endorsement deals or accepting payment for the use of their images. The new California law, which is scheduled to go into effect in 2023, would now allow them to reap the financial rewards for their athletic abilities. It would also bar the NCAA from retaliating against the colleges and student athletes. 

In an interview with the New York Times, Newsom said, “Every single student in the university can market their name, image and likeness; they can go and get a YouTube channel and they can monetize that. The only group that can’t are athletes. Why is that?” 

While the NCAA’s reluctant bend in favor of popular opinion is understandably being characterized as a landmark victory for college athletes, the organization was vague about how it plans to implement these changes. 

instagram @alanwilmotlaw

The NCAA said the updated policies would be “in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.” But the organization’s idea of “collegiate model” is rooted in the fallacy that college athletes are amateurs, even if schools and coaches are being paid bountifully for these athletes’ hard work. So who knows whether yesterday’s vote is truly a turning point for the NCAA—or just an attempt to head off more far-reaching reforms.

For now, the NCAA should thank government officials for applying the necessary pressure to force college sports in a new direction. 

That more athletes would get tired of being exploited by the NCAA and its member schools was only a matter of time. If the organization doesn’t change its ways, a true collegiate pay-for-play system could emerge—and not under the NCAA’s control. Lawmakers in California and other states created a perfect opportunity for the NCAA to abandon its outdated beliefs and embrace a progressive system that will ensure its survival.

An HBO documentary, Student Athlete, highlights the travails of college athletes. 

instagram @universitynow

A former Rutgers football player is depicted working part-time jobs after graduating and sleeps in his car. ‘Student Athlete’ unveils the exploitative world of high-revenue college sports through the stories of four young men at different stages in their athletic careers.The documentary posits that those who don’t make it big after graduation would at least earn something for all of their hard work.  

Coaches make millions while players and their families live below the poverty line.

twitter @chicagosports

Former coach and NCAA critic John Shoop said, “The coaches are making millions of dollars and they’re coaching players whose parents live below the poverty line.” “If you’re a reasonable person, it’s insane to build a $150 million recruiting facility, pay your head coach $10 million, the rest of your staff $20 million cumulative, but then say there’s not enough money to help the players.”

The new rules might prove especially beneficial to athletes whose careers end at college level —particularly female athletes.

twitter @kjramming

Despite the imbalances that exist in college sports, the new rules should put the NCAA in a better position to create more financial opportunities for players—especially those whose athletic careers end at the college level. The policy change could prove particularly beneficial to female athletes, who usually don’t have the same professional opportunities as men and often reach the height of their popularity in college. As the former UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi pointed out recently in The New York Times, she missed out on a lot of money because she was unable to capitalize on her viral fame.

“The NCAA is a billion-dollar industry built on the backs of college athletes,” Ohashi stated. “How different would things be for me had I been able to use my image and name my last year of school in order to promote the things I want to further my future? I want to make sure the next person doesn’t have to wonder.”

The new legislation and NCAA rule, may finally level the playing field and offer the student-athletes the opportunity to be compensated for their hard work.

As Andy Ruiz Jr. Gets Set For A Rematch Against Anthony Joshua, He’s Already A Champion For Many Latinos

Entertainment

As Andy Ruiz Jr. Gets Set For A Rematch Against Anthony Joshua, He’s Already A Champion For Many Latinos

andy_destroyer13 / Instagram

Underdog is a word that gets tossed around quite frequently in the world of sports. That may be because as humans we love the story of the often-counted out, disregarded and overlooked individual coming out on top. David vs Goliath. Rocky vs Apollo Creed. The list goes on.

This past June, Latinos got their own modern-day underdog story in the upset victory of Andy Ruiz Jr. over Anthony Joshua. It was a moment that will live on among the biggest upsets in sports within the past several decades. As the boxing world gets set for the highly anticipated rematch between Ruiz and Joshua, many Latinos have already won before Ruiz has even put on a pair of gloves. 

The-then 268 pound Ruiz knocked out three-belt heavyweight champion Joshua to become the first boxer of Mexican descent to win a heavyweight title. But as every underdog story goes, the victory didn’t come easy or expected.

Ruiz wasn’t even supposed to be at the fight until he was called in as a last-minute replacement for Jarrell Miller, who submitted three positive drug tests. Ruiz was dubbed “overweight,” “out of shape,” and a fill-in of what was supposed to be Joshua’s coming out party in his first fight in the United States. Ruiz entered the match as a +1100 underdog with a résumé of victories that took place in small casino venues from Tijuana to Tucson. 

Suddenly, he’d be fighting against one of the most feared boxers in Joshua in one of the most famous arenas in the world, Madison Square Garden in New York City.  

To put it in simplest terms, Ruiz had won the lottery without getting a single cent. Remember how I said humans love underdog stories? Yeah, this had all the makings of an underdog story but the easiest part of the script was already written. The world was just waiting for Ruiz to do his part

Seven rounds of punches later, Ruiz had accomplished what few had ever expected a man of his background, style and size to ever accomplish in a boxing ring. But more importantly, Ruiz became an inspiration to so many Latinos in a time when anti-Latino sentiment seems to be the only thing seen in the headlines. 

Whether it be from the U.S. president, a white-supremacist shooter targeting “Mexicans” in El Paso, Texas and the constant narrative of an “invasion” from the Southern Border. But on June 2, 2019, the world woke up to a headline that didn’t read “Joshua KO’s Ruiz” or “Ruiz Who?”, they read “Ruiz Becomes First Mexican Heavyweight Champion.” 

“It means a lot, especially knowing I’ve worked from 6 years old to get to where I’m at now,” Ruiz told the LA Times after the fight. “But it won’t mean something only to me. Each Mexican has his own dream, and I’ve come to believe as long as we focus, you can accomplish anything you want. So maybe by winning, I can change some minds.”

What has ensued since that legendary June night is a celebratory tour that few Mexican boxers have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. 

Overnight, Ruiz became a folk hero of some sorts to countless of Latinos who embraced the boxer and his underdog story. Ruiz came from humble beginnings, born in Imperial Valley, California and was raised by Mexican immigrant parents. His journey began at the age of six when he started his boxing career and would train long days and nights with his father, Andy Ruiz Sr. He would take his son with him for daily training sessions in Mexicali and would endure 90-minute waits at the border crossing. 

Ruiz was born already counted out and that helped him become the fighter he is today.

Credit: andy_destroyer13 / Instagram

That rugged street mentality was etched in his mind from a young age and still follows him to this day. 

“We know their struggles,”  Jorge Munoz, director of Sparta boxing club where Ruiz would train in his hometown of the  Imperial Valley, told The Guardian. “We know how many times they wanted to give up. And the people in the boxing world, they understand how much you go to tournaments and you sacrifice, sometimes you don’t have food, you come back and you try to raise the money to go somewhere else and all these struggles you go through with one goal that you might never get the chance for.”

What ensued after his victory was a championship tour the likes of which a Mexican boxer had never seen. Ruiz met with the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He made an appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” There was even a photoshoot with GQ Mexico. The crowning moment was a hometown parade on June 22 in the Imperial Valley where thousands of fans showed up to cheer the champ. 

“He’s one of us, so this is a big deal,” Reyna Gutierrez, a fan of Ruiz who was at that parade, told the Desert Sun. “People might not understand. He’s representing our community and he’s the first Mexican heavyweight champion. We’re so proud of that.”

Whatever the rematch result may be, it won’t matter to many Latinos. Ruiz has already done more than bring home a title, he’s become an underdog that Latinos can call their own.

The rematch bout is being billed as the “Clash on the Dunes,” as Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) will take on Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia about six months after history was made. One day before the fight, Ruiz already made headlines at the official weigh-in as he tipped the scale coming in at a surprising 283.7 pounds, 15 pounds heavier than in his first fight. 

“I kind of wanted to be a little over what I was last time so I could be stronger and feel actually a little better than in the first fight,” Joshua told Yahoo Sports. “We were [planning to be 268], but they were making us wait before we got to the scales and so I had already ate. Plus, I weighed with all my clothes. That’s one of the reasons why I weighed probably too much

While the extra pounds might be concerning to some, experts and analysts see the match as a tossup. For Ruiz, he likes being counted out. He thrives on it. It’s the only way he knows how to feel entering the boxing ring. 

“I never gave up, after everybody was telling me that I wasn’t gonna do nothing (because of) the way that I look … I kept training, I kept listening to my father, my team (and) my coaches. … When I got knocked down, I got back up like the warrior that I am. … (To) all the kids that have dreams, dream big,” Ruiz said at his hometown parade

Never give up. Get back up. Dream big. 

Yes, those are the words that sound like the description of an underdog. Andy Ruiz knows too well about that label and so do many Latinos. That’s why when that bell rings in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the world will be breathing in their collective breath as the latest chapter in this underdog story is written. 

Latinos wouldn’t have it any other way. 

READ: It’s Been 14 Years Since The Untimely Death Of Wrestling Icon Eddie Guerrero And His Legacy Is More Relevant Today Than Ever

Netflix Doc Profiles The Daily Life Of Rarámuri Ultramarathon Runner Lorena Ramirez

Entertainment

Netflix Doc Profiles The Daily Life Of Rarámuri Ultramarathon Runner Lorena Ramirez

Netflix

Netflix has just released a short documentary that gives us an insight into the daily life of famous ultramarathon runner Lorena Ramirez, the indigenous woman who wins races wearing traditional dresses and huaraches. “Lorena, la de pies ligeros,” premiered on Netflix on Nov. 20, and we can’t get enough of it. While we are used to admiring Lorena at the finish line, for the first time ever, we get to meet her family, and see what her life is like at home, deep in the Sierra Madre mountains. Lorena is arguably the most famous member of the Rarámuri, a Mexican indigenous group lauded for their incredible long-distance running abilities. Directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo, the 28-minute documentary is complete with panoramic views of the Sierra Madre mountains, interviews with Lorena and her relatives, and spots of Lorena competing in international races with a delicate song in the background in her own tongue, whispering about the light of fireflies.

For all the lights and photographs a race brings Lorena, her home life is like any other traditional Rarámuri.

CREDIT: NETFLIX

The very word rarámuri means “light-footed,” and the Rarámuri have been calling themselves “light-footed” for centuries. The Rarámuri used to populate nearly all of Chihuahua, but many retreated to the high sierras and canyons once the Spanish invaded Mexico in the 16th century. Many were captured and used as slaves, but the Rarámuri fought back. The Spanish executed many leaders of the Rarámuri, but their resistance proved too much for the Spanish and their Jesuit missionaries, who abandoned their posts. 

Today, Lorena lives with her family in the Sierra Madre, and continues to practice indigenous customs, many of which include a lot of walking. “We’re always walking,” Lorena says. “We walk to La Ciénaga in Norogachi for groceries. It’s like three or four hours walking slowly. I’ve never used public transport to go buy groceries.” All that walking has made her one of the most famous ultramarathoners in the world. An ultramarathon is any race that exceeds 26.2 miles.

Lorena’s father, an ultramarathoner, brought her to her first race.

CREDIT: NETFLIX

According to her father, “One day, we realized our feet were good for running, and that we had this talent for running.” “The first time my father took me to Guachochi was to run a seven-mile race. I never thought I’d be a good runner, or that I’d win,” Lorena tells the documentary crew with a chuckle. “But yes, I won,” she says seriously.

“There’s no need for pressure,” her father says about her wins. “She doesn’t have to win every time. Sometimes it’s hard on the feet. It’s very painful.”

While some indigenous customs have made her an elite athlete, we learn that she’s tired of taking care of the animals.

“It was hard for me to go to school. It was a five-hour walk,” her brother says. “The girls were forced to stay home and take care of the animals.” As much as he wishes Lorena and his sisters could go to school, “it wasn’t possible.” So the family sends the boys to school, and the girls stay home to do domestic work. Now, when Lorena’s father asks her if she likes taking care of the goats, she says she’s usually so tired now, passing on the chore to her little sister, Juana.

Sometimes she runs with shorts, but she wears them under her skirt because, as she puts it, “I wouldn’t be Lorena without the skirt.”

CREDIT: NETFLIX

Winning ultramarathons is a source of income for Lorena and her family. “I always push myself to make the goal,” she says in the documentary. “It’s no game. I say to myself ‘Nearly there. It’s not much longer to the finish line.'” As often as her father says she likes to run for fun, Lorena tells us that she takes the races seriously. 

Running shoes just “don’t feel right” to Lorena.

CREDIT: NETFLIX

Lorena prefers her huaraches, what else can she say? As she opens up boxes of brand new top-of-the-line running shoes, she says with a smile, “I don’t think I’ll use them. The people that wear these shoes are always running behind me.” That said, she admits that her huaraches caused her problems during an ultramarathon that was impacted by flash flooding and cold temperatures. After running through several feet of water to the finish line, she tells us that her huaraches stiffened up in the cold and were bothering her. She still won.

“I’ll keep running for as long as I can, for as long as I have the strength,” Lorena says.

READ: This Mexican Woman Ran A 50 Km Race In Sandals And Beat The Odds