The Danny Picard Show

This week, Danny reacted to Notre Dame football pulling out of the new EA Sports video game:

College football is back . . . in the gaming world.

Earlier this month, EA Sports announced the return of its college football video-game series. However, as of this week, at least one popular college football program wants no part of it: Notre Dame.

Fighting Irish athletic director Jack Swarbrick said that his school will not be participating in the new upcoming game for next-gen consoles — which is yet to have an official release date or a title — until the Name/Image/Likeness (NIL) rights for college athletes are put into place.

In a statement on Feb. 22, Swarbrick said:

“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 will not, however, participate in the game until such time as rules have been finalized governing the participation of our student-athletes. As those rules are developed, it is our strong desire that student-athletes be allowed to benefit directly from allowing their name, image and performance history to be used in the game.”

EA Sports has partnered with a trademark licensing company that is looking to use the rights to college football logos, stadiums, and uniforms. As of right now, the game will not be able to use the names or likenesses of college football players.

The absence of players’ names and likenesses would be nothing new to the college football video-game franchise, which hasn’t pumped out a game since NCAA Football 14. it seems that Notre Dame is trying to change that.

But will they? Your guess is as good as mine.

My stance on college athletes is that they should see some sort of financial benefit if their names and likenesses are going to be used to promote a product that will be making money. But let’s be honest. EA Sports could very well make the game without using players names or likenesses, and they’d still sell just as many copies.

So that’s where this gets interesting. Would EA Sports create a game without using Notre Dame? It would seem odd to not have the Fighting Irish be a part of any college football video game. But in the world of non-stop digital upgrades, EA Sports could most certainly play hardball with Notre Dame and create the game without them, only to later add the Fighting Irish as part of a downloadable update.

It would seem like a slimy move on EA Sports’ part, but if Notre Dame ends up being the only school that refuses to take part in the game, I don’t think that’s enough for EA Sports to stop its production. After all, the world doesn’t revolve around Notre Dame.

I’m not saying that Notre Dame is making a bad move here. What I’m saying is, more schools need to follow Notre Dame’s lead. What if Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Florida, LSU, and Michigan all put out the same statement, refusing to participate in EA Sports’ new college football video game until players’ names and likenesses could be used in the game and those same players would be compensated for it?

I’ll tell you what would happen. Either EA Sports would halt production, or all parties involved would figure out a way to get the players compensated.

Recent NIL legislation doesn’t yet cover group licensing for college athletes. But perhaps Notre Dame’s public refusal to take part in the popular video-game series will expedite the process.

In their own press release earlier in the month, EA Sports said:

“The franchise will include the rights to more than 100 institutions featuring the logos, stadiums, uniforms, gameday traditions and more that fans have come to know and love. While this college game will not include student-athlete names, images and likenesses, EA Sports is continuing to watch those developments closely.”

So is Notre Dame. And so are most college football players.

If there was ever a time for the players to put their foot down and demand the proper compensation they deserve, it would be by using this video game as a means to their end.

If EA Sports created the game like they used to, with no players names or likenesses, would life go on for the schools, players, and fans? Of course it would. At the end of the day, gamers just want a college football video game.

But if EA Sports wants to do it right, they’ll try to use the players names and likenesses. And if the players want to do it right, they’ll push for their schools to pump out the same statement that Notre Dame just made, in order to get everyone together and make it happen.

Follow Danny on Twitter and Instagram @DannyPicard.