South Park has managed to reach the level of success that it has because of its mission statement to literally never pull a single punch and has continually pushed the envelope more than any other envelope in history has been pushed over the course of the 307 episodes it’s produced during its 23 seasons.
The show’s 15th season features an episode titled “Crack Baby Athletic Association” and perfectly encapsulates the incredible lack of fucks Trey Parker and Matt Stone care about common sensibilities, as it revolves around some of the kids putting together an organization in which babies born with an addiction compete against each other to get their hands on a ball filled with a rock of cocaine.
In recent years, there’s been a push to allow the NCAA’s student-athletes to get paid based on the massive amount of revenue they rake in for their schools but South Park was fairly ahead of the curve thanks to a scene where Cartman channels his inner plantation owner and asks how the University of Colorado gets away with not paying its “slaves” (which is admittedly hyperbolic but also not an entirely baseless analogy).
The episode aired a couple of years after former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon filed a lawsuit against the NCAA for profiting from his likeness by featuring him as a player in NCAA Basketball 09, and in 2014, the organization settled with him and agreed to compensate athletes who’d been featured in that game and others, which brought an end to the college titles produced by EA Sports.
The tides began to change in a big way last year when California passed a law that will allow college athletes in the state to profit off of their image and likeness beginning in 2023, and while the NCAA fought tooth and nail against it, it eventually accepted defeat and began looking into potential changes to its long-standing policy (which could result in the storied NCAA Football franchise making its grand return).
Now, it appears Florida has seen Cali’s bet and raised it, as The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports the State Senate recently passed a similar bill by a vote of 37-2 which was then sent to the House, where it is expected to receive enough votes to be sent to the desk of Governor Ron DeSantis, a former student-athlete at Yale who has voiced his support for the measure.
If it’s signed into law, the new policy would be enacted on July 1, 2021, which would give prospects some serious incentive to take their talents to the state. While the bill’s writer Debbie Mayfield said she wanted to institute it this year, she says she’s currently working with Marco Rubio to introduced similar legislation in Washington, D.C. and giving the NCAA time to draft its own policy.
To paraphrase Anne Hathaway in The Dark Knight Rises: There’s a storm coming, NCAA. You better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.