“Notre Dame Athletics welcomes the return of EA Sports College Football, a video game series that has historically helped promote interest in college football,” Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick said Monday in a statement. “Notre Dame will not, however, participate in the game until such time as rules have been finalized governing the participation of our student-athletes."
There’s a world where those two concepts can peacefully and mutual profitably co-exist, someday. It’s just that the NCAA’s chronic avoidance of defining the name/image/likeness (NIL) issue in college athletics has added layers of legalese and complications to a seismic shift in the amateur athletics model that was supposed to be implemented in time for the 2021-22 school year.
Now there’s no clear timeline.
And state legislatures, Congress and The Supreme Court will ultimately likely dictate to the NCAA rather than suggest what the next steps are that need to be taken.
I have two thoughts on this. First, I agree with this stance. For as much as I want to play NCAA football again, it needs to be made in such a way where the athletes are compensated for their likenesses as well as the schools. I hope the process can be sped along so that everyone can come out of this happy and fairly compensated.
Second, I wonder if Notre Dame is the first of many schools that might take this route, in solidarity with their players. If so, we may see the first two or three new games in the series using generic knockoffs of universities and generic players. There are precedents for this in EA sports games, namely in the recent FIFA titles, where soccer clubs that made deals with competitor Pro Evolution Soccer were replaced with generics, such as Juventus being renamed "Piemonte Calcio" and Boca Juniors being reskinned as "Buenos Aires FC."
If this is how it plays out, I wonder what sort of names and mascots we'll see. Notre Dame could be called the South Bend University Goldendomes or something.
What would other teams be called? What would an offbrand Ohio State Buckeyes be? I know there's an easy one for Michigan, just call them the Team Up North Skunkweasels.