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Guest Author

Rick Scott: DC needs to start rewarding efficiency, not inefficiency

Ed. Note: Gov. Rick Scott‘s office sent the following op-ed regarding “the national healthcare debate.”

I recently traveled to D.C. to fight for Florida as the U.S. Senate debated repealing and replacing Obamacare. For far too long, D.C. politicians have focused only on the grand bargain of repealing and replacing Obamacare, ignoring the opportunity to make incremental changes to get rid of the taxes and mandates and roll back the federal welfare state. 

For decades, the federal government has been willing to spend more than it takes in. We all know this is not sustainable, leaving debt for our children and grandchildren – more than $19 trillion in debt and counting. The inaction we’ve seen on repealing Obamacare shows that hasn’t changed.

Throughout this healthcare debate, a lot of people have been advocating for bigger government, and not a lot of people have been advocating for taxpayers. I will always advocate for Florida’s hardworking taxpayers.

While a new bill has been introduced this week, it has taken far too long to get rid of the disaster of Obamacare, and I fear the politicians in Washington will never find common ground on this critical topic. There is absolutely no question that Obamacare must be repealed immediately so Americans can actually afford to purchase health insurance.

To lower costs, fundamental reform to the Medicaid program is needed. Obamacare encouraged a massive expansion of Medicaid to cover able-bodied, working-aged adults, even as 600,000 elderly Americans and individuals with disabilities nationwide sit on waiting lists to access services through this program.  

States like Florida that have run increasingly efficient Medicaid programs, and have not expanded Medicaid, must be rewarded and treated fairly under any bill. What’s concerning is that under the most recently proposed Senate bill, tax and spend states like New York will continue to be rewarded for running an inefficient Medicaid program.

Long before the Obamacare debate, New York ran a terribly inefficient Medicaid program for decades which ran up their state’s deficit and hindered their economy. Florida is the exact opposite. We have been efficient with our dollars while providing quality care to those who truly need Medicaid. 

As a reward for its fiscal irresponsibility, for every dollar New York pays in federal income taxes, they receive a quarter back from the federal government for Medicaid. In comparison, Florida only receives 16 cents for every tax dollar that is sent to Washington. Current Congressional bills lock in past federal spending, which would make this inequity permanent.

That makes absolutely no sense. If Florida is going to get a smaller rate of return on its federal taxes, shouldn’t our federal taxes be cut? New York, with fewer residents than Florida, receives more than $33 billion per year for Medicaid while Florida receives less than $15 billion.

How is permanently locking in these spending levels fair to Floridians when New York has been terribly inefficient with their taxpayers’ dollars? The federal government should cut income taxes for Floridians by 30 percent. This would put our share of federal Medicaid funding as a percentage of taxes paid on par with New York. This reduction would save Floridians thousands each year.

The federal government must start rewarding efficient states like Florida and stop rewarding inefficient states. Our taxpayers deserve nothing less. 

Yolanda Hood: There will come a time when you’ll have to leave something behind

Goodbyes are never fun, except when they are.

Even if you haven’t read Gone With the Wind or watched the movie, everyone knows Rhett Butler’s famously delivered line as he says goodbye and shuts the door on his relationship with Scarlett O’Hara:

“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!”

When I was a young girl I would watch “The Lawrence Welk Show” with my grandmother. I thought the best part was when the women and men would line up at the end of the show in their beautifully styled 1960s flowing chiffon gowns and polyester three-piece leisure suits and sing, “Good night, good night until we meet again. Adios, au revoir, auf wiedersehen ’til then.”

I know that those who are as old as I am are now humming that glorious tune.

There are also the inspirational goodbyes, like the one from Central Florida’s very own Fred Rogers that went generally like this:

You make each day a special day. You know how, by just your being you. There’s only one person in this whole world like you. And people can like you exactly as you are … and I like you so much. Bye bye.

It was this inspirational goodbye that helped to convince a 1969 Senate subcommittee on communications to maintain $20 million in federal funding for public broadcasting.

Then there are the goodbyes that make you weep.

John Travolta, in the 1996 movie “Phenomenon,” was in bed dying from a rare brain tumor. He turns to his girlfriend and asks, “Will you love me for the rest of my life?” His girlfriend responds: “No.  I’ll love you for the rest of mine.”

Just gets you in the heart every time.

So why my obsession with goodbyes?

Saying goodbye is always a hard thing to do when you are leaving a place where you have made friends, joined families, learned lessons, and maybe taught a few as well. Saying goodbye is hard when you love walking outside of your door and seeing sandhill cranes pecking in your lawn as you skip over and around the multitude of lizards that scuttle across the sidewalk.

Saying goodbye is hard when the sun is always there, warming your skin and brightening all of your outdoor activities – weeding, car washing, mowing the grass. You know, the things you have to do because it is always so warm and sunny, at least here in Central Florida.

But there comes a time when you’ll probably have to leave something behind, whether it is a city or job or loved ones – like I’m doing now as I leave UCF to begin work at a new university in Canada. That’s why I’ve been thinking a lot about goodbyes lately.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that life is a journey, not a destination. And, so, we all must journey on, to make more wonderful friends and learn more lessons.

I’ve decided I won’t be sad because I have many good memories and have met many great people here.

As Dr. Seuss suggested: “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

It’s a lesson we all should learn.

And I’m smiling right now.


UCF Forum columnist Yolanda Hood is the former head of the UCF Curriculum Materials Center. For now, she can be reached at



Edward Timmons: Granting the privilege of work in Florida

Edward Timmons

This week marks an important time for veterans, their immediate families and low-income workers in Florida. The House Bill 615 that took effect July 1 will remove some meaningful barriers to employment. Veterans and their spouses moving into Florida will now be allowed to continue working in the profession that they were licensed to perform in their previous state of residence, without having to meet additional licensing requirements. Licensing fees will also be waived for most Florida veterans, spouses of veterans and low-income workers.

Florida lawmakers should be commended for taking these positive steps that will provide veterans and low-income workers with more employment opportunities. A lot of hard work, unfortunately, remains undone.

Veterans in Florida and across the United States that drove commercial vehicles in the military now have the opportunity to apply for a military skills test waiver within one year of the end of their service. But several other aspects of military training continue to not be accepted in the civilian sector. Many veterans receive extensive medical training throughout the course of their service, yet these individuals are still required to complete the same amount of mandated minimum levels of training as any other applicant. Hundreds of dollars of fees have been removed but thousands of dollars of fees associated with mandatory education and training remain.

Far too many Floridians are unnecessarily burdened by occupational licensing laws. According to a report from the Obama administration, 28 percent of the workforce in Florida has a license. This is almost seven full percentage points higher than the national average reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The elimination of licensing fees will be helpful for low-income workers, but what about all the fees for education and training? Florida is one of just three states and jurisdictions to license interior designers. Aspiring designers must complete six years of education and training. Once again, hundreds of dollars in fees may be gone, but thousands of dollars in education and training fees remain intact.

Another bill that would have allowed aspiring professionals in a wide array of job positions, from hair braiders to boxing announcers, to work without a license died in the Senate last month. Earlier versions of the bill also eliminated licensing requirements for interior designers, but successful lobbying efforts of existing interior designers in Florida resulted in a significant rewording of the bill.

Will scaling back education and training requirements of occupational licensing statutes cause undue harm to the public? The evidence that we have available says no. According to the Obama White House, just two of a population of 12 studies estimating the effects of stricter licensing on quality find evidence of any positive effects.

It is important to give credit where credit is due. While the reforms of House Bill 615 will make a meaningful difference for many Floridians, too many citizens in Florida will continue to find their hopes and dreams crushed by seemingly needless occupational licensing laws.


Edward J. Timmons is an associate professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of Occupational Regulation at Saint Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania.


Vern Buchanan: Fighting our modern-day slavery

At a time when America faces serious challenges, it is imperative that Washington put aside partisan hostility in favor of common-sense solutions that move our state and nation forward.

Some people argue that it’s not possible to reshape the dialogue to a more public-spirited approach, but I believe that Florida can lead by example — working together to do what is right. That’s my goal as chairman of a diverse, 29-member Florida congressional delegation that includes Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, 16 Republican House members and 11 Democrats.

A prime example of our bipartisan resolve occurred last week when the Florida delegation held an official hearing to tackle the growing problem of human trafficking — a form of modern-day slavery.

Florida ranks third in the nation, behind California and Texas, in the number of reported trafficking cases and it experienced an alarming 54 percent increase last year. Children account for more than half the cases of human trafficking, a crime in which the victim is abducted or recruited for sexual exploitation. It can also involve illegal organ harvesting and forced labor.

At the hearing I co-chaired with Democrat Alcee Hastings of Fort Lauderdale, we spoke with several Florida experts on ways to combat this vile and monstrous crime.

One of the witnesses was Elizabeth Fisher, founder and head of Selah Freedom, a national anti-sex-trafficking nonprofit based in Sarasota. Ms. Fisher briefed the members on her group’s efforts to help more than 2,000 young women in the Suncoast region. She also shared the harrowing story of a Bradenton girl who was trafficked from 11 years old up until she was 26.

The scope of the global problem is staggering: 27 million people are caught in the modern slave industry, which turns billions of dollars in profits for the heinous individuals behind these crimes.

This is an issue that demands immediate action. Several of the witnesses offered constructive suggestions to confront the problem. Ms. Fisher told us that Congress should focus on helping victims reclaim their lives, given that demand for services is tripling annually.

Another witness at the hearing, Dr. Suzanne Harrison with the Florida State University College of Medicine, noted that training in the medical community is essential to treat the girls and young women who “go unrecognized in clinics and emergency rooms.

Congress should take these suggestions to heart as it moves to address human trafficking.

I have co-sponsored bipartisan legislation, the Abolish Human Trafficking Act, to increase penalties for perpetrators and give law enforcement more tools to treat human trafficking like organized crime.

I also voted for the Put Trafficking Victims First Act, a bill that provides federal grants to train prosecutors on how to best protect victims and investigate human trafficking. It also provides assistance for trauma care and mental health services to victims. The proposal is currently awaiting action in the Senate.

Too often, the subject of human trafficking flies under the radar and only receives mainstream attention when it appears on the movie screen. We must continue the fight, not as Republicans or Democrats but as Americans, to raise awareness and combat this abhorrent crime against women and children in our communities. The time to act is right now.


U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, serving his sixth term, represents Manatee County and parts of Sarasota and Hillsborough counties. He is also a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee.


Hold my beer and watch this! July Fourth fireworks light up ER

As the long July 4 holiday weekend continues, Sachs Media Group’s Breakthrough Research Division wanted to look on the brighter side of our independence-declaring holiday — and by that, we mean fireworks, of course! Specifically, we consulted the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to look at the volume of recorded injuries involving fireworks since 1997.

We were illuminated to learn from Jim Rosica of that Floridians purchasing fireworks promise to use them “solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries” with few exceptions.

According to injury data, however, birds shouldn’t be the only ones frightened.

The NEISS uses a sample of hospitals across the US to estimate nationwide totals for ER visits involving an injury associated with consumer products.

Based on these data, a whopping 179,730 Americans have visited the ER for fireworks-related injuries since 1997.

And get this: a shocking two-thirds of these visits occur on or just after one day of the year: July Fourth. Comparatively, Independence Day sees nearly seven times as many fireworks-related injuries as New Year’s Eve each year.

So what happens to cause these injuries? Well, based on the data, we can infer that most injuries involve lighting mistakes. Over 20 percent of all hospital visits due to fireworks include an injury to the hand, and another 12 percent involve an injury of the fingers.

The head also sees as a fair amount of action with 20 percent of all fireworks-related ER visits relating to the eyes, 12 percent to the face area, 3 percent to the ear, and 2 percent to the head.

Less than 1 percent of reported injuries involve the “pubic region,” though this stat may not be of much comfort to the estimated 319 men who experience such an injury each year.

Take these data as a precautionary tale for your July Fourth weekend festivities: don’t pick up a lit firework, stay away from Roman candles, and please, if you find yourself saying to your friend “hold my beer,” you shouldn’t start the fire.


Andrew Bryant is a sophomore at Florida State University majoring in economics and statistics, and is a research intern with Sachs Media Group.

Carol Dover: Thank you, Florida leaders, for your hospitality

This Legislative Session was a tumultuous one, with several lawmakers holding to their convictions, refusing to negotiate, but in the end, compromise prevailed.

Thankfully, in the final hours of the Special Session, legislative leaders realized the unparalleled value of tourism to our state’s overall economy. By allocating $76 million of funding for VISIT FLORIDA, Florida will continue to elevate itself as the leading destination for travelers.

The state’s critical investment will continue Florida’s momentum as the world’s leading travel destination and promote growth that will create employment opportunities across a variety of sectors.

Tourism is the lifeblood of Florida’s economy and this significant support from our state leaders goes a long way to keeping our economy strong.

Gov. Rick Scott was relentless and steadfast in his support of our industry’s 1.4 million employees. Leaders in the Florida House and Florida Senate heard the voices of the constituents in their districts and came together to fund VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts.

Sen. Jack Latvala ensured matching fund calculations were defined and protected local tourist development tax funds from being used as matching funds.

I’m proud of our 10,000 members who served as unyielding advocates for issues impacting the hospitality industry. This challenge presented an opportunity to engage our passionate ambassadors of the tourism and now it’s time to celebrate a victory well earned.

While extremely grateful, it is important to remain cautious.

Our industry’s work is far from finished and we must continue to educate our local, state and federal elected leaders. Tourism is the economic engine of the Sunshine State, with visitors in 2015 spending $108.8 billion, averaging $300 million per day. And with 113 million visitors in 2016, Florida is well on its way to becoming the No.1 travel destination in the world.

VISIT FLORIDA has been given the opportunity to hit the reset button on the way it operates. Now that we’ve been through the trenches, it’s time for our industry partners to get to work! VISIT FLORIDA’s has set an ambitious goal of 120 million visitors to our state in 2017. To get there, we must all work together to welcome tourists to our incredible state.


Carol Dover is President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) and serves on the board of directors for VISIT FLORIDA.


Apryl Marie Fogel: The true cost of Donald Trump’s tweet

I don’t watch cable television frequently. In fact, I don’t even have it.

I have children at home, and I’m sensitive to what they see and hear; so we are cord-cutters, living on a strict diet of G-rated entertainment.

There are days, like the day of the shooting at the congressional baseball practice, I find myself hankering for the up-to-the-minute, round-the-clock information provided by cable news.

But then, there are days like today.

Returning to my hotel yesterday (in Tallahassee, FL), I turned on CNN. There was a panel discussing President Donald Trump’s tweets. After eating dinner, I did a little work, got ready for bed and looked at the muted screen; hours passed and there was a different panel talking about the same subject. It was on every channel.

As a message from the leader of our nation, Trump’s tweet was out of line. It doesn’t take dozens of experts to debate that fact, yet that’s what was happening all day.

How many times (and ways) does this need to be said?

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should,” great advice a mentor once gave me, something I wish Trump would heed.

I watched Sarah Huckabee Sanders defend the President’s statement as punching back — “I don’t think it’s a surprise to anybody that he fights fire with fire … As the First Lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back ten times harder.” —  and I winced at the task she’d been given. There she stood behind the presidential seal, a reverend place where historically a press secretary would give updates on issues of great importance to our nation and the world, and she defended the indefensible.

Unlike so many women I saw weighing in on the tweets, I wasn’t offended by a man going after a woman’s looks. We can’t as women say we are equal in every way but too delicate to handle a man using our looks as a target.

Who wouldn’t agree with Sanders that if you can throw a punch, you should be prepared to take one?

The issue as I’d explain to my children: If you’re in a situation and “punching back” involves name calling, insulting one’s appearance or a “your momma” joke, you have probably lost the only fight that matters, and that’s the one for your dignity.

I doubt Mika Brzezinski lost sleep over Trump’s tweet. What a boon for her brand (and her ratings) that in the midst of running the nation the president took the time to “throw a punch” at her.

The loser today wasn’t the President. It was the President’s agenda.

They’re an unhelpful and unnecessary diversion from his agenda of helping the American middle class and “making American great again.”

No one thinks less of Trump because of his tweets. This wasn’t the most shocking thing he’s tweeted since becoming president. I’d say the James Comey tape tweets still take the cake there.

Nevertheless, saying Trump needs to control his message isn’t worth the breath it would take to utter the words because he sees his lack of discipline as a strength.

Hopefully, today’s lesson for him was that the opportunity costs of his tweet was higher than the reward. Yes, Trump can punch back, and I’m sure in the moment he hit send he felt a little better.

But, no, it’s not worth it.


Apryl Marie Fogel is a communications consultant and owner of AM Solutions. She also publishes Alabama Today.

Linda Geller-Schwartz: Donald Trump should act on Florida’s bipartisan support for judicial nominees

Linda Geller-Schwartz

Donald Trump has been mired in controversy his first few months in office, and by his own admission, the job of being President is harder than he thought. But Trump has an opportunity to get something meaningful done quickly and in a bipartisan fashion for Floridians. He can act on an appeal from our two Senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to fill vacant seats in our federal courts.

These two senators have jointly asked the president to renominate three of President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees to Florida’s federal courts who had been vetted and approved by both Senators, but left waiting for hearings (along with Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland) when their nominations expired in January.

Sens. Nelson and Rubio’s rare show of bipartisanship couldn’t come at a better time for Florida’s federal courts. There are currently seven federal judicial vacancies in Florida and five of them are formally classified as “judicial emergencies,” meaning there simply are not enough judges to handle the growing caseload. As judicial vacancies remain unfilled, Floridians who rely on our court system are the ones who suffer.

Last year, the watchdog group Integrity Florida issued a report detailing the myriad ways that lengthy judicial vacancies delay and deny justice for Floridians. Prolonged judicial vacancies inevitably result in case delays, higher caseloads, increased administrative stress and judicial burnout. Such judicial vacancies “threaten the timely administration of justice in both criminal and civil cases” according to the report.

In their letter, the senators asked the president to renominate Patricia Barksdale and William Jung for vacancies in the Middle District of Florida, and Phillip Lammens in the Northern District. With our courts already stretched razor thin, it only makes sense to move these qualified bipartisan nominees through the process rather than starting over from scratch. To underscore this point, Nelson and Rubio make clear in their letter that “timely action is needed as the two vacancies in the Middle District are considered judicial emergencies.”

The letter also refers to the failure of Senate leaders to take “timely action in the last Congress.” In addition to the highly publicized blocking of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, Senate Republicans in recent years have refused to act on numerous lower court vacancies, causing the number of judicial vacancies to skyrocket.

As a result, President Trump now faces the daunting task of filling more than 120 federal court vacancies. Where there are qualified, bipartisan candidates available to be renominated, it makes sense for the president to act quickly. Failing to address these vacancies threatens the stability and fairness of our justice system and delays justice for Americans seeking their day in court.

Floridians expect and deserve to have a fair and functioning judicial system, and that requires our courts to be working at full capacity. Sens. Nelson and Rubio should be commended for setting aside partisan politics for the sake of our judicial system and the public interest. For his part, President Trump should take notice and heed their advice.


Linda Geller-Schwartz is Florida State Policy Advocate for the National Council of Jewish Women.


Manley Fuller: FL wildlife crossings work; safety for animals, people

Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation

It’s always heartbreaking when I hear that yet another Florida black bear or Florida panther has gotten killed on a Florida road.

So far this year, vehicle collisions killed an average of two endangered Florida panthers a month. And for bears, the toll is worse: About 20 black bears die every month on roadways as they travel the state looking for food and mates. And we all see many other dead creatures — deer, squirrels, opossums, bobcats, birds, reptiles and more — along our roadsides. This hurts people too: An estimated 200 people are killed and 29,000 injured yearly in the U.S. when their cars collide with animals.

The good news is that we can prevent this, and we have proven technology to do it. Building safe crossings for wildlife can reduce the carnage to nearly zero. Wildlife crossings take a number of different forms — expanded culverts, special ledges built along rivers or canal banks under highway bridges, or full-blown landscaped overpasses, like the striking forested Cross Florida Greenway Land Bridge over Interstate 75 near Ocala.

In Tallahassee, a study showed that 90 percent of the turtles that tried to cross Highway 27 from Lake Jackson to a nearby waterway didn’t make it. Since the Lake Jackson Ecopassage was built under the roadway in 2010, the death toll has dropped to zero because turtles, alligators, and other creatures are now funneled by fencing to a culvert that allows them to pass between water bodies without dodging traffic.

More good news: A project that the Florida Wildlife Federation sparked years ago is finally a reality. It’s along a nine-mile stretch of Alligator Alley (which runs from Naples to Fort Lauderdale) that was a renowned hot spot for dangerous collisions, especially Florida panther deaths. The Florida Wildlife Federation commissioned a detailed study of the problem in 2015, sent a letter to the state petitioning action, and today there is finally a system of fencing and underpasses to help wildlife cross safely. In Southwest Florida, we’ve been involved in 50 different wildlife crossings so far, and we are excited to be involved with even more projects statewide.

Think about how nerve-wracking it is for us to try to dodge traffic when we have to run across a highway – just imagine how confusing it is for a wild animal to be moving through the woods and suddenly confronted by a road with speeding cars everywhere.

The highway crossings we’re installing have another important benefit besides cutting collisions: They provide key connections so that animals can roam in search of mates, which helps prevent inbreeding and protects a healthy gene pool for whole populations.

Since wildlife watching contributes $5.8 billion yearly to Florida’s economy, it makes sense for us to do what we can to keep our wildlife populations healthy and protected. If we humans are going to take over their landscape, the least we can do is use whatever tools we can to make it safer for them so we can all coexist.


Manley Fuller is president of the Florida Wildlife Federation.

Ali P. Gordon: Is it time to level the playing field for college athletes?

I love college sports. I’ve got the Knights, Yellow Jackets, Tar Heels, Hoyas, Maroon Tigers — you name it. If I can catch a game, I will.

My brother-in-law, who’s from New England, recently schooled me about lacrosse, so now on top of college football, basketball, baseball and volleyball, I’m hooked on that, too. And if it’s any indication of my level of fanaticism, I got married on a Sunday in the fall so I could still watch college football on the Saturday before.

But it seems like the playing field is a little unfair when it comes to student-athletes who can’t profit from what they do in college, unlike other students who can use their engineering skills to get jobs, their marketing abilities to work at companies promoting products, their management skills to set up their own companies.

This issue has been around for years. The latest case involves a football player, a marketing major, who was told by the association that oversees college athletics that he risks his amateur status by receiving advertisement payments for a YouTube channel that uses his name and image.

There’s something amazing about seeing people competing for not only the win, but perhaps also a chance to participate at the next level. Experiences learned through competition – such as leadership, effective communication and the capacity to work in team-oriented environments – are also key. Intense preparation, strategy, focus, and random luck are all things with which we can relate.

It’s easy to see that student-athletes pour a lot of effort into their craft. They love their sports and their fans. I often wonder, however, do these students get full value for sharing their talents? Is limiting their financial support to tuition, room, board and a stipend fair?

I’ve never participated in college sports, and before I provide a stream of consciousness about something of which I am admittedly not an expert, consider the other students.

College students come in all manner of shapes, sizes and colors. When the next incoming class hits campus this fall, they will do so with varied levels of academic preparation, degree-seeking goals and financial needs. They’ve successfully been admitted to their respective universities with the goal of improving their own lives.

Some students will finance or pay their way through school, while some of the bright ones will get full academic scholarships. The very brightest have earned supplemental scholarships that will come to them as stipends.

Once in school, the fully funded students typically need only keep a B average and make satisfactory progress toward graduation to retain their support in place. These requirements are generally attainable given their skill set.

These top-end students usually have intellectual appetites that cannot be satiated by classwork alone. They participate in club activities, volunteer for community service, travel abroad, undertake creative efforts, and so on. If they wanted, they could even further develop their skills by starting a successful company, becoming a research assistant in a lab, hosting a blog or YouTube channel, or have some other side gig. All of these could lead to extra money. As long as the GPA is minimally a B average, they can fully capitalize on their current market value.

It is rewarding to see students with newly developed skill sets preparing themselves for the next level. Experiences learned through extracurricular activities help to develop leadership skills, effective communication and the capacity to work in team-oriented environments. Intense preparation, strategy and focus are what make students successful.

It’s easy to see that top-end academic students pour a lot of effort into building their bodies of work. They love their craft. I expect these students will reap the benefits of the value for their talents, but I have yet to see one of my engineering students sell his or her autograph for money, which they can do without being penalized.

Imagine that you, your relative or friend were a student highly regarded in art, architecture, marketing or cybersecurity. What level of vitriol would you have toward a system that placed restrictions on you or their ability to apply those skills for profit while still in school? So although they may occupy the identical campus setting, exceptionally gifted student-athletes and academic students are seemingly subject to starkly different systems facilitating distinct fiscal outcomes.

Arguments against why student-athletes are not allowed to reap the full monetary benefits during or after the application of their skill set seem circular and duplicitous compared to the free markets that exists for the skills of academic students. Universities need to be given more freedom to devise systems that are more equitable for all of their students.

There are a lot of sides on this issue that have been debated for years, and any satisfactory solution will probably be complex. But just consider: As your favorite college team takes the field or court, are the players getting reasonable market value for their time and energy?


UCF Forum columnist Ali P. Gordon is an associate professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering. He can be reached at


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