NCAA allows Davis to profit on her likeness in landmark ruling

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With the last traces of summer having just been trampled under the feet of trick-or-treaters across the country, Mo'ne Davis' impact on the sports world is still just as strong as it was in the late-August heat.

The Taney Little League pitching sensation from Philadelphia stunned America with her 70 mile-per-hour fastball at the Little League World Series this past summer, and became the first girl to pitch a complete-game shutout at the annual tournament in Williamsport, Penn. During the 11-day, world-wide competition, the 13-year-old hurler also became the first-ever Little Leaguer (boy or girl) featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

And unlike many of her Little League predecessors, Davis hasn't fizzled into obscurity with the changing of seasons.

Since Taney's squad returned home from Williamsport at the end of August, Davis has been on the Tonight Show, donated her jersey to the Baseball Hall of Fame, and threw out the first pitch of Game 4 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals. She is also profiled in Teen Vogue's November issue, and is set to receive the Musial Award for extraordinary character later this month at the annual Musial Awards in St. Louis.

Most noticeably, Davis is the subject of Chevrolet's newest commercial, which first aired on FOX on Oct. 21 during Game 1 of the World Series.

The Spike Lee-directed 60-second spot depicts Davis as America's daughter; a confident three-sport athlete, who eats pizza, loves her family, and stands for girls who want to play sports with the boys.

The spot ends with the tagline, "Chevrolet celebrates Mo'ne Davis, and those who remind us that anything is possible."

Davis' commercial not only keeps her as a mainstay symbol of empowerment for female athletes, but it could also prove to open up doors for college athletes in the future.

Following the release of Chevy's commercial, the NCAA announced that Davis could profit on her likeness and still be eligible for future participation in college athletics.

NCAA spokeswoman Emily James said in a statement, "This waiver narrowly extends the rules -- which allow Davis to accept the payment and still be eligible in any other sport -- to include baseball." James continued, "The NCAA staff also considered the historically limited opportunities for women to participate in professional baseball. In addition, Davis is much younger than when the vast majority of the prospect rules apply."

While Mo'ne Davis is not yet, and may never be a college athlete, she has cracked open the door for certain unique circumstances to be considered by the NCAA as reason enough to grant compensation to amateur athletes. With the NCAA's decision, the eighth-grader has inadvertently added to her list of ground-breaking influences on the sports world in just a matter of months.

For Davis, Chevy's commercial isn't just a feel-good ploy to sensationalize her success and stir up some controversy within the NCAA; it is her reality, and it reveals why the pitching star may just emerge as the Billie Jean King of our time. An avant-garde female athlete, if you will.

Sure, there have been several other pioneering female athletes who have come before her, but none have been quite like Mo'ne Davis.

She is talented, poised, and self-assured. She knows what she wants, and she's not afraid to go get it. She is wise beyond her years, and she has set a trailblazing precedent for other young women to follow.

The combination of these qualities is what has kept, and will continue to keep, Davis relevant long after her team's elimination from the Little League World Series.

Because, even if Davis doesn't make the successful transition to a regulation-sized baseball field, or if she is never the point guard for Geno Auriemma's UCONN Huskies like she hopes to be someday, or if she soon finds another passion that takes her away from sports altogether, her influence on young women will remain revolutionary.

During the Little League World Series, Davis said, "Probably like a couple of years from now, there'll be a lot of girls here, and then it won't be just like all boys, so they'll have to build like another dorm for girls, so it'll be a huge impact if more girls start playing."

With Davis as the budding spokeswoman of a new generation of American daughters, young females will follow her lead to defy society's sports norms and emerge from the shadows of their male counterparts.

And pretty soon, the Mo'ne Davises of the world will be the rule, not the exception.

Kayla Lombardo is a senior at Fordham University. She plays third base for Fordham's softball team and is a passionate New York Yankees fan. Follow her on Twitter: @KaylaLombardo11
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