Sunday, February 13, 2011

What to Make of the EA Sports Lawsuit

Former Nebraska quarterback is engaged in a very important lawsuit, against EA sports, which produces Madden and NCAA Football.  Keller is suing the EA sports, because while the NCAA games do not use the athletes names, they use their likeness.  Keller's name may not be used in the game, but his height, weight, jersey number, and home state are.

Keller has the backing of several former professional athletes, and the estate of Bob Marley.  All the major sports unions agree with Keller's stance, and have given him their support.  While I certainly understand Keller's rationalization, is this just another frivolous lawsuit?

Well, it isn't as if athletes aren't compensated for their contributions.  They receive free tuition and board, which can cost as much as $40,000 a year, depending on the school they attend.  As a student, who will be knee-deep in student loans soon, that is a significant figure.  Even if an athlete doesn't get the chance to play professionally, he should walk away with a bachelors degree, and an athletic career that would look good on any resume.

On the flipside, universities and television networks have been profiting on athletes since the invention of cable television.  ESPN is paying $125 million a year to broadcast the BCS, and recently signed a $300 million dollar deal with the University of Texas.  TV networks are throwing astronomical amounts of money at universities, and most of the money isn't going into the athletes pockets directly.  Which brings up the argument of athletes getting paid.

Ultimately, I really don't agree with Keller's stance on the matter.  It's a video game using the likeness of players, but not their actual names.  EA Sports cuts deals with the conferences, and each individual school to use the actual stadiums, as well as the uniforms and logos.  I believe, that a lawsuit against the NCAA makes more sense than suing a third-party video game manufacturer.

Keller was an average QB in the NCAA that couldn't even crack an Arena league roster.  My hopes are for Keller losing this lawsuit, and the EA sports can still produce a great product without having to resort to using fake universities.  Keller, you got a free education, shut up and move on.

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