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Out of Bounds

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On July 1, 2021, sports in America changed forever. After decades of protests, sanctions, and challenges, the NCAA fortress finally crumbled. The Supreme Court struck the decisive blow, ruling unanimously that restrictions on “education-related benefits” for college athletes violated antitrust law. At the same time, a host of new state laws took effect that - for the first time - gave college athletes the opportunity to earn money from sponsors. Immediately, college stars in football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and many other sports began signing deals. The move minted instant millionaires, decriminalized a host of actions, and opened the floodgates for a whole new economy, creating ripple effects that will play out for decades while igniting long-smoldering controversies about equity, race, gender, and the values and power structure of “amateur” sports in America. In this first season of Out of Bounds, we take a deep dive into the hot-button issue of money in college sports by telling the compelling inside stories of those who were impacted the most. We follow six diverse athletes - three from the past and three in the present–across a range of sports. We look at all that was lost and risked in the era before the rules were changed - the sanctions and witch hunts, the vacated titles, reclaimed trophies, and the billions in income - while looking ahead to the enormous paydays and thorny questions this revolution entails. Along the way, we weave in the history of amateur sports in the US, the evolution and unchecked power of the NCAA monolith, and the long-brewing battle to provide fair pay to college athletes. It all relates to one huge overarching question: Is this finally the end of amateur sports in America? read less

Our Editor's Take

Amateur sports have undergone a massive upheaval, particularly at the collegiate level. A Supreme Court ruling in July 2021 was the primary cause. The Out of Bounds podcast explores the implications of that decision. It tells the personal stories of college athletes making sponsorship money for the first time in history.

Chris Ballard is the narrator and cocreator of Out of Bounds. Ballard is a writer who focuses on sports journalism. He is also a teacher. His work has been a part of notable publications such as Sports Illustrated. Ballard is a former college athlete, which motivated him to start this podcast.

Each episode of this six-part podcast series focuses on a different athlete. The participants are diverse in gender, race, and age. What they all have in common is being forced by the NCAA to make difficult choices about their future. It is hard to ask someone not to accept millions of dollars. The stakes are high because many college athletes' careers end at school. They do not get the chance to go pro and continue making money. How does one navigate all that pressure?

That is the primary question that Ballard and his team set out to answer on the podcast. However, a more complex question lies underneath the surface. It proves to be a common thread in all these stories. As a result of the ruling, are amateur sports now de facto non-existent in the United States? Where do athletes go from here, and how do they continue in this climate? Is there space for them to operate in such a complex landscape? What is the best and fairest way to treat these athletes?

Out of Bounds is a compelling listen that asks smart questions about the world of amateur sports. The entire six-part podcast series is available for listeners to enjoy.

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Episodes

Out of Bounds - Trailer
Mar 15 2022
Out of Bounds - Trailer
On July 1, 2021, sports in America changed forever. After decades of protests, sanctions, and challenges, the NCAA fortress finally crumbled. The Supreme Court struck the decisive blow, ruling unanimously that restrictions on “education-related benefits” for college athletes violated antitrust law. At the same time, a host of new state laws took effect that - for the first time - gave college athletes the opportunity to earn money from sponsors. Immediately, college stars in football, basketball, soccer, volleyball, gymnastics, and many other sports began signing deals. The move minted instant millionaires, decriminalized a host of actions, and opened the floodgates for a whole new economy, creating ripple effects that will play out for decades while igniting long-smoldering controversies about equity, race, gender, and the values and power structure of “amateur” sports in America. In this first season of Out of Bounds, we take a deep dive into the hot-button issue of money in college sports by telling the compelling inside stories of those who were impacted the most. We follow six diverse athletes - three from the past and three in the present–across a range of sports. We look at all that was lost and risked in the era before the rules were changed - the sanctions and witch hunts, the vacated titles, reclaimed trophies, and the billions in income - while looking ahead to the enormous paydays and thorny questions this revolution entails. Along the way, we weave in the history of amateur sports in the US, the evolution and unchecked power of the NCAA monolith, and the long-brewing battle to provide fair pay to college athletes. It all relates to one huge overarching question: Is this finally the end of amateur sports in America?