Darren Heitner is the Founder of HEITNER LEGAL and Founder/Chief Editor of Sports Agent Blog, a leading niche industry publication. He focuses on sports, entertainment, and intellectual property litigation and transactional work, and is the author of 2 editions of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know, published by the American Bar Association. Darren is the author of How to Play the Game: What Every Sports Attorney Needs to Know (published by the American Bar Association), Contributing Writer of An Athlete’s Guide to Agents, 5th Edition, and has authored many sports, entertainment and intellectual property-related Law Journal articles. Darren has a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Florida and a Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from the same institution.
He recently answered 3 Questions with INFLCR:
1) What is the most important way social media has changed the game for college sports?
Every Saturday, numerous college football games are being played concurrently, no matter the time of day. Social media has made it so that, a game you otherwise would probably never pay attention to or tune in to watch, appears on your radar because of a big play or a close game as the time is winding down. It has made it so that an individual with wide access to coverage may be able to switch through multiple games and enjoy the excitement of what college football has to offer. Social media has also allowed fans who may not be in front of a TV or simply cannot watch live to follow along with the drama, particularly on Twitter.
2) Will college athletes someday win the right to monetize their names and likenesses?
I do believe that college athletes will be able to commercially exploit their names, images and likenesses in the near future. The restriction on their ability to monetize their rights of publicity is unreasonable and oppressive, considering that they are essentially employees with below minimum wage salaries and an inability to otherwise generate income from their main skills. Meanwhile, academic institutions are exploiting them consistently for commercial gain and it is rather obvious when a particular jersey number sells better than others based on a perceived connection to a prominent individual.
3) We’ve been through a period of transition in college sports after realignment, with issues like concussions, cost-of-attendance and transfers leading to new rules. What issue do you see as one to watch for the future of college sports?
There has been a steady decline in attendance at college football games over the past four years. One study shows that the reduction is roughly 8 percent across the board. It could become a bigger issue if the steady reduction of fans attending games continues to increase, particularly as schools feel pressured to spend more on top coaching candidates and enhancements to their facilities.