California governor Gavin Newsom made history on Monday when he signed CA-SB206 into law. The bill requires that all California colleges and universities pay student athletes for the use of their name, likeness, and image. It’s a major step toward equality and fairness for student athletes, who are currently paid not in money but scholarships while their athletic prowess makes millions of dollars for colleges and universities.
When a governor signs a bill into law that’s as groundbreaking as SB206, you might imagine him doing it at his ornate official desk, using a very fancy pen while surrounded by vocal supporters. The signing of this bill, however, took place somewhere much different: Newsom signed the bill during an episode of LeBron James’ HBO show “The Shop.”
James has been publicly supportive of SB206, and he and Newsom were joined by James’ business partner Maverick Carter, agent Rich Paul, former UCLA and NBA player Ed O’Bannon, former UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi, and former UConn and current WNBA player Diana Taurasi.
In the lead-up to the signing of the bill, the group had an in-depth conversation about how the policies of colleges, universities, and the NCAA have hurt them. Taurasi knows that UConn is still making money off her, years after she left. O’Bannon had to sue the NCAA for using his name and likeness in a video game without his permission. And James said that he skipped college because they wouldn’t pay him, and he desperately needed to help his mother financially. You can see the conversation and the bill signing in the tweet below.
"It's going to change college sports for the better by having the interest of the athletes on par with the interest of the institutions."— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) September 30, 2019
Full conversation with @KingJames, @mavcarter, @ed_obannon, @katelyn_ohashi, @dianataurasi, and @richpaul4 as @GavinNewsom signs #SB206. pic.twitter.com/aIVA2b4bUq
You can tell how excited James is to be there for such a momentous occasion, though it was undercut slightly when he showed the camera the piece of paper Newsom had just signed. You might expect a bill to look like, well, a bill. A piece of paper with the name of the bill on it, some formal words, and a place for Newsom to sign. But what James held up appeared to be a blank piece of paper that Newsom had put his signature on.
It was a little bizarre. While not all bill signings are ceremonial affairs with cameras, Newsom can’t just sign a piece of paper, write “bill” at the top of it, and take it to the state senate expecting it to become a law. Thankfully, California bills just look a little more informal than someone might expect. They’re essentially a half-sheet of paper with very little official writing and a space for a signature at the bottom.
So there’s no California constitutional crisis because Newsom decided to sign what looks like a piece of discarded copy machine paper instead of SB206 on LeBron James’ “The Shop.” And student athletes will get the chance to be fairly compensated when a California college or university uses their name or face to sell tickets and merchandise.
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